Hydrogen Sonata

Am sat in sunny and grungy Key West in Florida and have just finished the latest Iain M Banks novel ‘The Hydrogen Sonata‘… It was a brilliant read! But first of all I have to state that the Kindle edition was over 9quid, more than the hardback! So, dear publisher, even though I love his books I hereby promise I’m going to read a pirated version of his next book as a protest.

The story centred on two key concepts of the Culture that I just don’t get… subliming and living forever. Subliming is the process where an entire species or civilisation can decide it’s had enough of life and moves as a whole into a sort of ‘heaven’ where everything is much more perfect. I liked the explanation that this was possible because after subliming you moved into a matter rich dimension so anything was unlimited. In our universe most of it is a vacuum so the opportunities for constant expansion and capability is very much more limited. But still.. It seems odd that an entire civilisation could get so bored of life that it decides to just give up, surely every few years there is a new generation of children being denied their right to live? I can understand that the civilisation might be in a rut but surely not the individuals?

My second confusion comes from one of the characters who seems to be the oldest living person in history… i.e. several thousand years old! Typically in the advanced civilisation of the Culture people only live for a few hundred years… Which again I just don’t get?!?! Surely if you can modify yourself to become any sex or creature you want and live any type of dream life you can imagine without any risk of injury or disease or ageing then MOST people would live for thousands of years?

Anyway, the story itself was fantastic and the humour of the ship Minds really carried the story along. There were also some awesome ship/avatar type battles that I secretly find the best part of his books as it fits well with my mental age of 15. The ending was a bit predicable, well who am I kidding, the ending was predicted from almost the beginning of the book so it’d have been nice to have more of a twist, but overall it was another hit for my favourite author.

Wanders off to a bay with pirates in it