• The Hydrogen Sonata

  • Culture, Book 10
  • By: Iain M. Banks
  • Narrated by: Peter Kenny
  • Series: Culture, Book 10
  • Length: 17 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 10-04-12
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio UK
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars 4.4 (126 ratings)

Regular price: $21.31

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Publisher's Summary

The Scavenger species are circling. It is, truly, the End Days for the Gzilt civilization. An ancient people, organized on military principles and yet almost perversely peaceful, the Gzilt helped set up the Culture 10,000 years earlier and were very nearly one of its founding societies, deciding not to join only at the last moment. Now they've made the collective decision to follow the well-trodden path of millions of other civilizations: They are going to Sublime, elevating themselves to a new and almost infinitely more rich and complex existence.
Amid preparations though, the Regimental High Command is destroyed. Lieutenant Commander (reserve) Vyr Cossont appears to have been involved, and she is now wanted - dead, not alive. Aided only by an ancient, reconditioned android and a suspicious Culture avatar, Cossont must complete her last mission given to her by the High Command. She must find the oldest person in the Culture, a man over 9,000 years old, who might have some idea what really happened all that time ago. It seems that the final days of the Gzilt civilization are likely to prove its most perilous.
©2012 Iain M. Banks (P)2012 Hachette Digital
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Critic Reviews

"Nobody does it better." ( Sunday Times)
"The standard by which the rest of SF is judged." ( Guardian)
"Essential for SF fans." ( Library Journal)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Benbarian on 11-08-12

Hmm... Ok.. But not great

I've read most of Banks's work by now, and this is a little underwhelming. After the depth and breadth of Surface Detail, this leaves me feeling a little cold. Banks as always paints sweeping vistas of alien awesomeness and really digs in with amazing concepts and high tech culture. But one doesn't ever really like his characters, only the Minds seem to have any depth to them.

It won't be the last Banks i read, he does keep me hooked enough to continue. But I hope they get better rather than worse from here.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By John on 11-08-12

Love it

Where does The Hydrogen Sonata rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Top 10%

What other book might you compare The Hydrogen Sonata to and why?

Any of the Culture series by Banks or the Polity by Neal Asher

Have you listened to any of Peter Kenny’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes. Even better, excellent accents, consistent interested delivery.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?


Any additional comments?

Don't miss it

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By M on 10-27-12


In The Hydrogen Sonata Iain M. Banks - as an outspoken atheist - has finally gotten around to using his Culture universe to explore faith and religion. Though there have never been any gods in his creation (the Minds, though near-omnipotent, are way too vain and profane to fulfill that role) there has always been Subliming: a Heaven-like afterlife for civilisations or Minds to ascend to. He’s never tackled Sublimation head-on before and I was intrigued to see how he would do it; this being Iain M. Banks though, he did it with wit, thoughtfulness and panache (with great dollops of action, sex and intrigue thrown in to spice it up). I couldn't tell which came first, the plot or the theme, but its not important; the plot rattles along - a wondrous travelogue around his beautifully imagined universe - and the theme lies there in the background adding depth to the conversations of the characters we’re following on their various wild-goose chases. Along the way we get to chew over different aspects of religion through the different characters we meet: a hermit Mind who returned from the Sublime representing resurrection; evil and guilt (or lack thereof) are explored through the main antagonists; forgiveness and acceptance of our sins and the meaning of life, the universe and everything according to a millennia-old human. There’s no spiritual epiphany to found though, either by the characters, the author or the readers; the moral (if there is one - I’m not sure it’s even relevant) could be that a truly loving God would welcome all his flawed creations into heaven. Or maybe that personal Truth can be true even if it’s based on lies (and doesn’t hurt anyone). I don’t know, but I love the way that the great mystery at the heart of the story could seem almost irrelevant except for the fact that it’s incredibly important to those involved. Anyways, I really enjoyed the book and it was sublimely narrated (no pun intended) by Peter Kenny - thoroughly recommended!

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Colin on 10-11-12

Hi-Tech Intrigue

Yet again Banks supplies a gripping tale of eons spanning intrigue. This story doesn't have quite the depth of some previous Culture novels but it gives another insight into the many layers that make up his Universe. The Culture ship Minds steal the show yet again but you can't deny that without their seemingly 'pet' biologicals they would get bored and have no choice but to Sublime which would seem to be the point of this book.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Lyndon on 07-21-17


sad to have finished the series. it's been a superb series to listen to with Peter Kenny.

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