It is 4034 AD. Humanity has made it to the stars. Fassin Taak, a Slow Seer at the Court of the Nasqueron Dwellers, will be fortunate if he makes it to the end of the year.
The Nasqueron Dwellers inhabit a gas giant on the outskirts of the galaxy, in a system awaiting its wormhole connection to the rest of civilisation. In the meantime, they are dismissed as decadents living...more
Banks’ had such an interesting way of writing his novels so that the real story unfolds in the background the whole time, mostly hidden. He did this in Consider Phlebas, and again here in The Algebraist. The foreground story is of c ...more
But banning it after it nearly killed everyone damns the ci ...more
Scholarly seer, Fassin Taak, is sent by the Mercatoria’s militia to find a mythical map of hidden wormholes and, if it exists, a way to translate it - a quest that puts him in the middle of inter-galactic war.
Meanwhile, a warlord with the comically evil-sounding name (but no double-letters, unlike almost everyone else), Archimandrite Luseferous of the Starveling Cult, has a self-set mission of his own:.
“Power was everything. Money was nothing without it. Even happiness wa ...more
The Algebraist (correct me if I'm wrong) is Mr. Banks' only non-Culture sci-fi novel, it does have some of the magnificent madness that you get in his Culture books but after reading it for a while I started wishing the ...more
I’ve had The Algebraist on the shelf for quite a few years, patiently waiting its turn in the reading rotation. But since Iain M. Banks is most famous for his post-scarcity AI-dominated Culture space opera series, I suspect his non-Culture novels often get less attention. In particular, The Algebraist is a fairly hefty tome, so I hesitated to tackle it. However, I discovered an audio version on Audible UK (many of his books are strangely unava ...more
There was this weird secondary plot too that seemed entirely unnecessary, and in a book that was bloated with confusing flashbacks, lengthy sentences, excessive u ...more
Open with a joke about the size and weight of this book making it good for a number of non-reading-related purposes. Go on to comment on the excessive amounts of esoteric terminology.
That's probably how most reviews of this book begin, and they're probably right in doing so. Of course, plenty of books are justified i ...more
Well, better than that — 3½ stars — but not as good as I'd hoped.
There were two major problems. The first I could almost forgive—as simply not being to my taste, the same way I don't enjoy the silliness of Terry Pratchett. The Algebraist tossed together rather high-concept themes (persecution of AIs, morally ambiguous revolution against a powerful hegemon, mass-death tragedy) alongside silliness bordering on stupidity. The major alien race is depicted as bumbling Woosters enjoying the life o ...more
The Mercatoria power-structure is rococo Raj-in-Space -- there's a fabulous court scene straight out of Victoria and Albert's coronation in India, featuring ...more
There was much to like in this book. There were richly imagined aliens and worlds. There was a race of “slow” beings that live billions of years, impacting their culture, morals and interactions with the rest of the universe. There was a rather interestin ...more
Unabridged. (Clipper Audio) [Audio Cassette]
Geoffrey Annis (Narrator)
Publisher: W F Howes Ltd (2005)
There is an abridged version read by Anton Lesser out there however don't be tempted with that.
This loses a star because the baddy is such an obvious nasty with the name Archimandrite Luseferous of the Starveling Cult, happily though this is an exciting and busy storyline crammed full of ...more
y) yonder, out
If you picked "All of the above," you'd be right. FTL travel and secret wormholes let the main character, Fassin Taak, hopscotch across the known universe in less time than it takes a villain to talk too much and get destroyed. The author takes full advantage of this to introduce Taak to everything from sentient brambles to a species that collects dead other s ...more
"The Algebraist" is told from the (third-person) perspective of a member of the Quick race ...more
The Algebraist has all the hallmarks of excellent space opera: great world-building and characters, mystery, fascinating concepts, exciting plot, interesting aliens, lots of reveals and (in this case especially) humour.
What I liked most about this novel though are the Dwellers. They're an ancient, galaxy-spanning species of aliens that live inside the atmosphere of gas giants. They have a very laissez-faire attitude towards events outside their homeworlds or i ...more
The Dwellers have to be one of my favourite creations, insouciant aliens in a galaxy teeming with interstellar life, civilisations, empires and technology. In the midst of this crowded galaxy our hero Fassin Taak must seek the secret of the Dwellers, but his is re ...more
'The Algebraist' takes place in the same universe as other Banks SF novels, but is a fully stand-alone novel. It is the story of Fassin Taak, a Seer (basically, an alien anthropologist), who in his research, unwittingly comes across a clue that seems to indicate that ages-old legends may have some truth to them after all: the seemingly frivolous but enigmatic Dwellers, a widespread ali ...more
First off, I found it fascinating that the method used to control and pacify humans and other ‘alien’ galactic species is to coopt the evolution of those different species. By kidnapping earlier groups of humans, introducing genetic modifications and advanced technology to their societies then waiting for the rest of humanity to make it off Earth on their own, it seriously placed the rhumans at a disadvantage. As a method of taking control of the universe, it i ...more
The Dwellers are an ancient race that populate gas giant planets which are basically an iron core surrounded by a lot of hot toxic gases. Doesn’t sound like much fun, but with the Dwellers having been in the galaxy, and rumoured to be in all other galaxies, for billions ...more
Uneven reactions to an uneven book. In the book's favor, the writing is intelligent and challenging, and Banks' imagination is absolutely stunning. That alone is enough to make the book worth reading. However, there was plenty here that was off-putting. The tone of the book is uneven, and one wonders whether Banks can't decide to be Asimov or Douglas Adams. S ...more
On the plus side, most of the book involves wandering through a anarchist society, made possible by abundance, and long arguments about how any anarchist society could work.
There's an interesting contrast between the protagonist's dangerous but free t ...more
Banks's father was an officer in the Admiralty and his mother was once a professional ice skater. Iain Banks was educated at the University of Stirling where he studied English Literature, Philosophy and Psychology. He moved to London and lived in the south of England until 1988 when he returned to Scotland, li ...more