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The Hydrogen Sonata – REVIEW – great read but …. January 11, 2013

Posted by showmescifi in ShowMeSciFi.com.
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we are huge fans of Iain M Banks Culture novels …though they can sometimes be challenging.

The Hydrogen Sonata is a brilliant tour de force that is one of the best Culture books yet and at the same time one of the least satisfying. Banks’ best books tend to have some kind of amazing ending or awesome plot twist — there are a few amazing twists in the Hydrogen Sonata – but the ending…well we didn’t care for it.

The whole book is essentially about unravelling a mystery that people are willing to kill for to protect and yet it’s a mystery that we never truly learn and it never really does matter either.
 “So I became the man who lived forever, more or less, because I’d once held a secret I didn’t care about any more.”

That somewhat unsatisfying ending aside – this is a book that gripped our attention with amazing concepts, characters, setting and event from beginning to end. The whole deeper discussion around the organization of the Culture and how the minds collectively make decisions was amazing.

The contrast of the Gzilit to the Culture also interesting and the whole scavenger species idea also neat. Vyr Cosson – typical awesome strong female character that Banks writes so well. The ship Mistake Not is pure brilliance especially it’s precision and the language that Banks uses when the ship is facing adversaries.

There really is no other science fiction author alive today that we’d rather read than Banks.


**UPDATE** WE recently had an ‘elevator’ conversation with a person about this book which made us think a bit more about it. While there was no mega twist in this book, there were a few….perversions … of the type that only Bain can contrive.

For example, ximenyr the dude with how many penises? and how did vyr cosson and Berdle get into the ship again? (oh yeah they transported/displaced into a cesspool of shit…kinda reminded up of the first chapter of consider phelbas…(


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