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Consider Phlebas

Culture Series, Book 1
Narrated by: Peter Kenny
Series: Culture, Book 1
Length: 16 hrs and 25 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (2,253 ratings)

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Summary

The first Culture novel, now available as an unabridged audio download.

The war raged across the galaxy. Billions had died, billions more were doomed. Moons, planets, the very stars themselves, faced destruction - cold-blooded, brutal, and worse, random. The Idirans fought for their Faith; the Culture for its moral right to exist. Principles were at stake. There could be no surrender.

Within the cosmic conflict, an individual crusade. Deep within a fabled labyrinth on a barren world, a Planet of the Dead proscribed to mortals, lay a fugitive Mind. Both the Culture and the Idirans sought it. It was the fate of Horza, the Changer, and his motley crew of unpredictable mercenaries, human and machine, actually to find it, and with it their own destruction.

Consider Phlebas is a space opera of stunning power and awesome imagination.

©1987 Iain M. Banks (P)2010 Hachette Digital

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

A Truly Great Sci-Fi Novel

Consider Phlebas (CP) is without doubt a conceptually stunning piece. The breadth and depth of the concepts and constructs is breath-taking. There are throw-away ideas in CP that would be an entire book for another author.

OK, CP is a linear tale lacking some of the structural fun and games of the later novels and character names can be a bit of a challenge, remembering who's who, but all credit to the narrator for helping out with strong vocal work. Seriously, have you ever tried to narrate even a chapter of a book? Creating, remembering and switching voice personas is extremely challenging, so a quick round of applause for Mr Kenny.

Banks' style is engaging and the action or fight scenes are incredible but without doubt the single most captivating aspect of the book is The Culture and the Minds that enable it. All of the incredible robotic menace of the Matrix or Terminator genres is tossed on its head by the super-artificial intelligences that provide for the needs of every citizen... Because the AI's seem to want to keep people around and happy. Is it symbiosis? No, what do organics add to the AI's? Interest and entertainment certainly but it does seem to be an almost 'master-pet' or 'farm' relationship except there seems to be no negativity.

I digress. Stunning concepts. Intelligent prose. Challenging ideas. Gripping action.

What more do you want?

Seriously, I'd give it 5 stars but I know what's coming later in the series and if you think this one is good, the later novels will knock your socks off!

Enjoy!

46 of 46 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Enjoyable

This is the first of the Culture novels and the second one I have read after 'Matter'. This book introduces a fascinating universe and I can see why Banks has kept it alive through the series of books he has set in it. the story is pretty easy to follow once you have adapted to the names, characters, technology and politics and it is fast-paced enough not to become bogged down like other space operas I have read. The story is linear and self-contained with a good ending. Well narrated and recommended to those that like the genre - it is a good example of its type.

20 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Ideal Banks for Audio

Coming back to Banks thru Audible I found this a gripping reintroduction to his work - weaving threads of characters thru the whole with his typical skill & artistry and totally absorbing as an audio book.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

A good book brilliantly read

Peter Kenny's reading is 5 star. Consider Phlebas is Iain M. Bank's first sci-fi novel. Whilst a great rolling space opera it lacks the tightness and narrative tricks he applies to his non sci-fi novels and later sci-fi works, so only 4 stars.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Bit long winded for what it is.

Not too bad but it is saved from mediocrity by the excellent narration. The story could have been much tighter and pace and interest kept high but we wandered on to excessive detail with no benefit than to pad things out.

Good ideas but not griping enough to score highly.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

an excellent storyline

An excellent plot which keeps you wanting to listen and the narration maintains a level of excitement throughout the production. I would highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in science fiction.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Underwhelmed

Having heard and read so many positive reviews of Iain M. Banks' work I was looking forward to this book. Maybe my expectations were too high, maybe I just didn't "get it" but for whatever reason I found this book very ordinary despite the good narration and voice characterisation by Peter Kenny. From the beginning of the story I found it hard to engage with the various characters and by the end of the book I just didn't really care about any of them or the societies they represented. Although the pace was pretty good some of the scenes seemed superfluous such as the episode with The Eaters. I wasn't sure of the purpose of that scene, it almost appeared to be there just to add to the word count. The ending of the book and it's epilogues just seemed to lead to nowhere particularly interesting. Certainly not a dreadful book but also not as good as I had been lead to believe.

24 of 28 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Phlebas Considered

I'll confess up front that I'm a huge admirer of Iain Banks' science fiction. Banks has created an epic utopia/dystopia that is utterly involving, thought provoking and rewarding.



Peter Kenny is a brilliant narrator and brings life to the many characters that are introduced throughout this first 'Culture' novel.



Highly recommend this and the series as a whole.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

There is nothing like a bit of Banks

I like Iain Banks work, so am bias. It's been many years since I read this book and thought I would try the audio book. It didn't disappoint. If you like science fiction give it a try.



I also like Peter Kenny narration of the book very much.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A truely excellent book

Whilst I'm the first to accept that individual taste is exactly that, the only rating so far is a single star and it prompted me to write something to balance that view. I still consider this to be the best of the Culture novels and is actually the easiest to get into.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful