THE HYDROGEN SONATA
Richly complex and nuanced, the latest Culture novel is filled with engaging, well-developed characters. This is hardcore science fiction, filled with androids, artificial intelligence and space battles, brought down to a very human level by its universal themes — love, political power plays and what lies beyond this world. The plot can sometimes be difficult to tease out of the wealth of detail, especially given the multiple points of view. But readers who stick with the story will find this a stimulating and ultimately rewarding reading experience.
The Gzilt civilization is preparing to end its days and elevate itself to Sublime, a vast, rich existence on another plane. In the midst of the parties and preparations, Gzilt’s Regimental High Command is destroyed under mysterious circumstances. The lone survivor is Vyr Cossont, who is determined to complete her final mission: find a 9,000-year-old man who possibly holds the key to understanding why a civilization that should be celebrating is suddenly in chaos — but first she needs to find out why someone wants her dead before she can find him. (ORBIT, Oct., 496 pp., $25.99)