The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M. Banks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Oh yes, the end is coming for the whole Gzilt civilization. They're tired of making music and screwing. They're tired of being so damn *good* at everything. So, let's follow the holy text and hop aboard the higher-dimensional expressway and SUBLIMEo ourselves!
They're not the first culture to do it, and I'm sure they won't be the last, but the Culture has something to say about it. Yes they do.
I need to warn you, folks. There's sensitive information ahead. Even slightly spoiler-like and disturbing. Proceed with due caution.
"Uh, bub? Yeah, we got something you probably ought to see before you off yourself."
"Busybody know-it-all machines, what do you know? You're too afraid to see what comes next!"
"Ah, yeah, about that, we keep sending explorers who never want to come back."
"Then it must be great!"
"You do know you're committing a full racial suicide on yourself, right?"
"We have Holy Texts that say otherwise!"
"Ah, yeah, bub? Um, yeah, go right ahead."
It's pretty intense, right? A whole galactic civilization just going poof like that? Well, little did I know how much of a love story this was going to be! The romance, of course, is between a four-armed chick destined to go down the evolutionary pneumatic tube of the Sublime and a rather eccentric dildo of a ship that named himself Mistake Not My Current State Of Joshing Gentle Peevishness For The Awesome And Terrible Majesty Of The Towering Seas Of Ire That Are Themselves The Mere Milquetoast Shallows Fringing My Vast Oceans Of Wrath.
Kinda a mouthful, true, so the warship usually just calls himself Mistake Not. Kinda catchy, no? Better than the ships named, You Call This Clean? or A Fine Disregard For Awkward Facts.
God I love these Culture Ships.
Well anyway, the countdown is down and there's an absolute ton of interesting things going on that I'm not going to spoil because they're awesome, including philosophizing and rather mean Memory Cubes and a discussion with a REALLY OLD and CROTCHETY ship. Is this a novel about making life's living fun? Finding reasons to go on? Is this about talking a whole civilization off the cliff? Yeah, I suppose it really is, but it's also a celebration of all the peculiarities of living.
That's pretty awesome when you think about it.
Iain M. Banks died the very next year. Diagnosed with inoperable cancer in April of '13 and dead in June of the same year.
It gives me a lot to think about beyond just the fun and oddly prescient nature of this novel.
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