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Download The Hydrogen Sonata Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Hydrogen Sonata, by Iain Banks Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (2,704 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Iain Banks Narrator: Peter Kenny Publisher: Hachette Book Group Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Culture Series Release Date:
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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. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • “Confirms his preeminence in the field…Banks is always on the side of those trying rather than those succeeding, and that, ironically, is his greatest success.”

    Guardian (London)

  • “An epic roller coaster that starts fast and never slows.”

    Dallas Morning News

  • “[A] rich, sweeping panorama of heroism and folly…The action tumbles along at a dizzying pace, bouncing among a fascinating array of characters and locales. It’s easy to see why Banks’ cheerfully nihilistic imagination and vivid prose had made the Culture space operas bestsellers and award favorites.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “No matter how exotic a detail, as Banks describes it, it’s credible. And his stories grab your attention. Of interest not only to SF fans but also lovers of good prose and plotting.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “Banks’ mesmerizing, far-reaching narrative includes a wide assortment of colorful characters…One of Banks’ best Culture novels to date.”


  • “Brim[s] with wit and wisdom, providing incomparable entertainment, with fascinating and highly original characters, challenging ideas and extrapolations, and dazzling action seamlessly embedded in a satirical comedy matrix. Sheer delight.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books, Best Fiction 2012
  • Kirkus Reviews “New and Notable Title” for October 2012
  • A 2013 Locus Award Finalist
  • A 2013 John W. Campbell Memorial Award Finalist for Best Novel

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Kris | 2/15/2014

    " Iain M Banks newest book was a return to the Culture universe, which is a pleasure to visit. Banks creation of the Culture is a different take on how to write a series of books in a shared universe. He writes his stories based on the galaxy spanning civilization he calls the Culture but his twist on the idea is that the books are at best loosely related stories. He uses very few reoccurring characters and he tells new stories each time. You can read any of the Culture books as stand alone stories though at times you may feel that you are missing an allusion or two but they are not germane to the main story you are reading. If you read more than two or three Culture books you get a deeper understanding of the Culture universe and ethos which gives you a finer understanding of the motivations in a given story or some anticipation of what an outcome might be. All of this appeals to me as a reader as well as gives you fodder for rereads as you will definitely miss stuff on the first run through most of the time, especially his last 4 or 5 novels. This leads me to Banks as a writer and the type of scifi he writes. Banks writes what I call big idea scifi but the ideas aren't just science based like say Arthur C Clarke has written and the early years of scifi popularized. Banks big ideas are about human evolution and the nature of sentience as well as the what constitutes civilization. He also takes the ideas of a star trek type galaxy wide governing body and ups it several levels in complexity and impact. While at the same time he doesn't make you read the books in any order or with the need to follow a complex plot spun out over many novels. The Hydrogen Sonata itself is a excellent addition to the Culture universe and I enjoyed the story itself. The quick synopsis is that the Gzilt civilization is getting ready to Sublime and the Culture shows up to dealing with some of the issues that always seem to arise around this type of event. Events then do occur which necessitates the Culture takes an active involvement in dealing with things before the Gzilt Sublime. The elements that always appeal to me in these stories are in this one with the Culture ships and their Minds that run them, a human character that leads you thru the action and is the emotional focus of the story. There is also cloak and dagger and some cool tech around weapons and people as well as some fun dialogue. If you have read Banks Culture books before this is more of the same goodness if you haven't I would recommend this as a place to jump on and see if it appeals to you as this is a very readable introduction to this universe. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Bee | 1/26/2014

    " Sigh. As is so often the case Mr Banks awakens my imagination with jaw dropping concept driven sci-fi, and disappoints me with shallow characters and his talk-down-to-his-reader style. A good book, but not his best. I'd not recommend it as your first Banks. For that Matter sits happily on it's pedestal of awesome. Mr Banks, sort your self out and start writing as if you think I can read and think at the same time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Clare Neilson | 1/25/2014

    " As far as Banks books goes, this is very light and fast, but that is due to the nature of the main plot being a count down to an event that may or may not happen. This is a very funny book featuring lots of Mind conversations. No need to read the other previous books to enjoy the humour either. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Josh | 1/22/2014

    " This isn't the best Culture book I've ever read. Nor is it the worst (I might have to try Matter again sometime >.<). What it is is a fairly exciting yarn, with lots of ships, explosions, and intrigue... And a complete lack of pay off. The big secret is a let down and while, admittedly, the characters do sit back and go, "Really, that's it?" rather than trying to make it like it's something amazing (Another Out of Context Problem!?) I have to wonder at the logic of working with that sort of end in mind. "

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About the Author
Author Iain Banks

Iain Banks (1954–2013) was a Scottish author considered one of the most powerful, innovative, and exciting writers of his generation. He wrote mainstream fiction under the name Iain Banks and science fiction as Iain M. Banks. Following the publication and success of The Wasp Factory in 1984, he began to write full time. His first science fiction book, Consider Phlebas, was released in 1987, marking the start of the popular Culture series. His books have been adapted for theater, radio, and television. In honor of his science fiction work, an asteroid was named for him in 2013, and asteroid (5099) Iainbanks now resides in the main asteroid belt of the Sol system.