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#CBR4 Maneuver #39 – The Hydrogen Sonata

Target: Iain M. Banks’ The Hydrogen Sonata

Profile: Science Fiction, Space Opera, Expanded Continuity

Summary: From goodreads.com, “It is, truly, provably, the End Days for the Gzilt civilization.

An ancient people, they 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.

Amidst 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 – 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. Cossont must discover the truth before she’s exiled from her people and her civilization forever – or just plain killed.”

After Action Report:

Having reviewed more than half of Banks’ excellent Culture novels, I’m getting to a point where I’ve run out of things to say.  The Hydrogen Sonata continues the series’ exploration of the galactic metacivilization called the Culture with the same strong storytelling and eye for humor.  The themes Banks is exploring are natural extensions of those we found in Look to Windward and Excession.  Of course, the problem with consistency, even good consistency, is that it is boring to read about.

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CBRIII Maneuver #28 – Look to Windward

Target: Iain M. Banks’ Look to Windward

Profile: Science Fiction, Space Opera, Expanded Continunity.

Summary: Edited from goodreads.com “The Twin Novae battle had been one of the last of the Idiran war, one of the most horrific. Desperate to avert defeat, the Idirans had induced not one but two suns to explode, snuffing out worlds & biospheres teeming with sentient life. They were attacks of incredible proportion–gigadeathcrimes. But the war ended & life went on.

Now, 800 years later, light from the first explosion is about to reach the Masaq’ Orbital, home to the Culture’s most adventurous & decadent souls. There it will fall upon Masaq’s 50 billion inhabitants, gathered to commemorate the deaths of the innocent & to reflect, if only for a moment, on what some call the Culture’s own complicity in the terrible event. Also journeying to Masaq’ is Major Quilan, an emissary from the war-ravaged world of Chel. In the aftermath of the conflict that split his world apart, most believe he has come to Masaq’ to bring home Chel’s most brilliant star & self-exiled dissident, the honored Composer Ziller.

But the Major’s true assignment will have far greater consequences than the death of a mere political dissident, as part of a conspiracy more ambitious than even he can know–a mission his superiors have buried so deeply in his mind that even he can’t remember it.” Read the rest of this entry

CBRIII Maneuver #23 – Excession

Target: Iain M. Banks’ Excession

Profile: Science Fiction, Space Opera, Expanded Continuity.

Summary: From the back of the book, “Diplomat Byr Genar-Hofoen has been selected by the Culture to undertake a delicate and dangerous mission.  The Department of Special Circumstances–the Culture’s espionage and dirty tricks section – has sent him off to investigate a 2,500-year-old mystery: the sudden disappearance of a star fifty times older than the universe itself.  But in seeking the secret of the lost sun, Byr risks losing himself.  There is only one way to break the silence of millennia: steel the soul of the long-dead starship captain who first encountered the star, and convince her to be reborn.  And in accepting this mission, Byr will be swept into a vast conspiracy that could lead the universe into an age of peace… or to the brink of annihilation.” Read the rest of this entry