The Hydrogen Sonata
The New York Times bestselling Culture novel. . .
The Scavenger species are circling. It is, truly, provably, 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 ten thousand 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 nine thousand 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.
The Culture Series
The Player of Games
Use of Weapons
The State of the Art
Look to Windward
The Hydrogen Sonata
This rich, sweeping panorama of heroism and folly celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Culture, Banks s far-future semi-utopian society. The Gzilt, a civilization affiliated with the Culture, is only days away from leaving this reality for the Sublime, a condition of intense, hyper-real wonderfulness, when some of the Culture s self-aware spaceships catch hints that the Gzilt s decision to enter the Sublime may be based on a hoax. Vyr Cossont, a young, four-armed Gzilt musician, falls into the conflict as ships and their avatars try to figure out what s going on and then decide what to do about it, while powerful opponents attempt to stall the inquiry until time runs out. The action tumbles along at a dizzying pace, bouncing among a fascinating array of characters and locales. It s easy to see why Banks s fertile, cheerfully nihilistic imagination and vivid prose have made the Culture space operas bestsellers and award favorites.
Banks at his best
The Hydrogen Sonata is the best of the best I have read of scifi in 20 or more years. An entire civilization is on the cusp of " The Sublime" essentially leaving this existence for another ,where so few have ever returned from and those that did eventually are called back to somehow by their own longing. In this , there comes a series of events over a long held secret , one that could affect the sublime and the various domino effects that it's happening have on those both going to the sublime and those civilizations not . Our heroine finds herself tossed ,by no real action of her own , into a war for the truth. Along the way meeting with the always bizarre and eccentric personae of " the minds" beings that are essentially computer beings that control ships so large and vast entire planets full of people live on them.
Be prepared to start asking yourself and the universe a great many " Why do we do all of this to ourselves? Why are we here? Why do we let ourselves be manipulated by money , etc ... And then enjoy the world that Banks left us , the work of " The Culture"
Up To Standard
Another Culture tale, engrossing and consuming. A great way to escape for a few hours.
Another Culture classic from the prolific Mr. I. M. Banks. In the Hydrogen Sonata, we meet an equiv-tech civ as they count down to their departure to the collective Afterlife. Schemes long-hatched begin to unravel, the vultures begin to circle, and then the ultimate question pops up: do we know if the Afterlife is real, after all? Some last-ditch dashing around and scrambling for answers ensues, while the final parties get into full swing.
An entertaining and poignant work - let us hope Mr. Banks does not Sublime his Culture novels any time soon.