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The Algebraist

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating details ·  15,134 Ratings  ·  620 Reviews
6 sound discs (CD) (ca. 7 hr.)

It is 4034. 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 civilization. In the meantime, they are d
Audio CD, Abridged, 7 pages
Published November 4th 2004 by Time Warner AudioBooks (first published October 2004)
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Aug 28, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: _library, read-2017
I’ve been reading through all of Banks’ novels these last few years, mostly focusing on The Culture series and working my way outward through his other “M.” novels, and into his “non-M.” writing. This is my fourteenth Banks book, and my second non-culture “M.” novel.

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
mark monday
a non-Culture sci-fi adventure from Banks, one whose intriguing major topic is the relativity of morality. the aliens are pretty much humans in alien form - not much attempt to convey a truly alien viewpoint. but it is all fascinating nonetheless, and many of the characters - alien and otherwise - are sympathetic or fearful creations. expansive world/universe-building, per usual. some real narrative surprises from beginning to end. the novel's Villain with a capital V is almost a parody, as if t ...more
The Algebraist: Endlessly creative, perhaps overly so
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
Jun 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I write this review Iain M. Banks has passed away about three weeks ago. It makes me sad that our genre has lost another great writer. So I picked The Algebraist to be my "tribute read", alas I find that prefer his Culture novels. That said The Algebraist is not at all shabby.

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
Sarah Anne
That is hours and hours of my life I will never get back. My experience is that this book is the most boring book on the face of the planet (okay, there are a few that could beat it) and I can't for the life of me imagine why it was nominated for a Hugo. However, I do have friends that like it, so I'm going with this wasn't to my taste.

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
Sep 29, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Richard by: SciFi & Fantasy Group 2009-12 SciFi Selection

Well, better than that — 3 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) and silliness bordering on stupidity. The major alien race is depicted as bumbling Woosters enjoying the life of a Gil
Jan 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
THE ALGEBRAIST by IAIN M. BANKS -- An extremely rewarding though very complex read rating a 10 on all the scales of complexity due to writing style, amount of characters to follow, and the number and variation of cultures and species. The fast-paced action takes place on several planets all around the universe, includes one major character with quite a few other important characters including several totally alien species and several hierarchal structures involving religion and politics. It also ...more
May 28, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I keep hearing about what a great author Iain Banks is. This book was a book of the month last year for a reading group I belong to. I didn't like it. It had so much potential, but it was simultaneously underwritten and overwritten, if that's even possible. Probably my biggest beef with the book was the liberal use of the f-word. Now, I'm not a prude and God knows that the use of the f-word has become very commonplace. When my husband is watching Mafia movies, I always tell him that the over-use ...more
Sep 13, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Detail-oriented grand-sweep SF aficionados
Recommended to Alan by: Previous work
It's all a bit too much, isn't it? I mean, every page—sometimes every paragraph on every page—of The Algebraist throws in the names of new planets, principalities and vast empires; lost races and common aliens of endlessly inventive forms, habitats and abilities; unheard-of technologies, world-sized starships and robots smaller than grains of sand, automated castles, weapons of both mass and intimate destruction... clans, clades and clubs; cross-generational romance... bizarre medicines and food ...more
Ben Babcock
Warning: This review contains spoilers about the review. Continue reading only if you have already read this review or if you are unconcerned about ruining the ending of this review.

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
Edwin Priest
The Algebraist is my first get together with Iain M. Banks, and boy, does he seem all over the place in this book. It seems that he just can’t decide exactly what he wants to say in here. And it gives me some consternation about his other books.

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
Walking mp3: Tjörn Reserve:

Unabridged. (Clipper Audio) [Audio Cassette]
Geoffrey Annis (Narrator)
Publisher: W F Howes Ltd (2005)
ISBN-10: 1845053079
ISBN-13: 978-1845053079

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
‘El algebrista’, del desgraciadamente fallecido Iain M. Banks, es una novela de ciencia ficción que no pertenece a su ciclo de La Cultura. En ella se nos cuenta cómo el observador Fassin Taak, dedicado a observar la vida y costumbres de los Moradores, una especie cuya edad se calcula en billones de años, es requerido para una importante misión. El sistema Ulubis y los habitantes del planeta gaseoso Nasqueron están en peligro, y la mercatoria le encarga que investigue cierta información referente ...more
Shawn Davies
Mar 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whilst the Culture hangs over all Iain M Banks writings, this is a departure to a fully realised place in time and space that lets Banks create and historically delineate another Space Opera reality, and he does this spectacularly well.

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
Jan 02, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sandi by: SciFi/Fantasy BkClub
Shelves: sff, sffbclub, lib
This review is rife with spoilers.
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
Dec 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So Banks seems to ripen with age. Banks earlier titles were wrought with fanciful, min-blowing brain candy yet lacked a certain cerebral edge or literary finesse. I have to admit that he kind of stumbled slightly with Excession but certainly made his mark with the novel in various other ways. Consider Phlebas was a near masterpiece as was the Algebraist. Here, Banks gets a pretty good clip going and his writing even smacks of literature. That, plus set in amazing fantastical settings (futuristic ...more
There is a lot here. Arguably too much. Banks probably puts a plot thread too many in this book of endlessly inventive but excessive creation. The middle section is one of my favorite things he has ever done. The Dweller culture is more decadent and selfish version of his own Culture, but possibly funnier bringing to mind Moorcock’s end of time adventures and Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. A revenge plot that probably suffers the most for getting lost in the threads, a vast future history, rogue AI ...more
Jan 04, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: scifi fans, anarchists
Probably my least favorite of Iain Banks' scifi novels. The writing is uneven, and in need of editing. There are just too many of those short Point Of View chapters from people about to die. Tom Clancy does it a lot, Iain, don't be like Tom Clancy.

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
Aug 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sciencefiction, 2010
This is the reason I read science fiction. Banks creates multi-level space opera in a universe filled with humans and aliens. He has put a huge amount of creative imagination and must have had tremendous fun bringing this universe to life.
Ursula Pflug
May 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The following review ran in the Peterborough Examiner in December, 2004.A revised reprint appeared in the New York review of Science Fiction in September, 2006.

The Algebraist
by Iain M. Banks
Orbit 2004 (Time Warner)
534 pages
HC $42.00

Iain M. Banks’s new novel The Algebraist is a charming, intelligently written, really long space opera. Those who believe such a thing can’t exist, haven’t read the phenomenal Iain M. There is another Scottish writer named Iain Banks, also author of half a dozen nove
Peter Tillman
Apr 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-fantasy
Banks returns to widescreen space-opera in this non-Culture standalone, featuring the galaxy-spanning multispecies, oxygen-breathing Mercatoria empire and its interactions with the more-numerous gas-giant Dwellers, who seem to have colonized most of the jovians in the Milky Way. And they're old. Really, really Old. Plus, exploding spaceships!

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
Fred Hughes
Mar 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fassin Taak is a Seer but he is a young Seer and to him it’s all about the exploration and the physical experience of directly meeting with and conversing with the Dwellers. His elders are more comfortable just communing remotely

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
Nov 29, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a new genre for me. My first (so far as I can recall) "Space Opera," and I was beginning to think the fat alien would never sing...
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
Over a month to read! I loved this book, I found the universe intriguing, the Ulubis solar system fascinating and the few races we learned about equally interesting. The time of year and writing style contributed to the slowness of my read. Bank's writing is dense without much punctuation which forced me to slow down a bit.

Alien secrets, societies attempting to remain in control and relevant, roaming around gas giants, looney alien characters, AIs. A perfect sci-fi novel. The Dweller's treatment
Feb 14, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
One of the characters in this book is an alien species called Dwellers. Dwellers live for many millenniums and can slow down their consciousness so to them time can seem to pass faster than it would to us. It is a very interesting concept; unfortunately, Dweller "slow speed" doesn't work so well for the pace of a book. I found myself skimming and, most likely consequently, I was perpetually confused about what was happening. I don't read a lot of hard-core sci-fi, so part of it may have been me ...more
Feb 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Different from the Culture works, but still worth reading, and a universe I wish Banks had explored more. Ultimately the Culture asks the question "what happens when becoming all-powerful encourages you to become proactive" and the Dwellers ask "what happens when becoming all-powerful encourages you to withdraw". Necessarily, in only the one book, this question is not as thoroughly explored as the Culture. But nevertheless fun and occasionally thought provoking.
Emily (BellaGrace)
May 01, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, dnf
I'm so bored. I've been struggling for days to even get through the first 100 pages (btw, the plot of the book isn't even revealed until page 100). There are elements in this book that could be interesting, but there are too many books that I really want to read to waste my time reading something that I am struggling to get into.
May 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Özet olarak kitap güzel sayılır ama okunması inanılmaz zor. Yazarın kurduğu bazı cümleler o kadar uzun ki hala gözümden beynimin ilgili lobuna ulaşamayanlar var.

Karakterler güzel, dünya hoş, ama kurgu dağılmış, eksik kalmış biraz.
Bilimkurgu fanları okumalı, diğerleri uzak durmalı derim.
Maggie K
Dec 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am FINALLY finished with this book! It took FOREVER! But I have to say that the ending was good enough that it was mostly worth it :)
Mar 28, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Iain M. Banks is a pseudonym of Iain Banks which he used to publish his Science Fiction.

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 about Iain M. Banks...
“Any theory which causes solipsism to seem just as likely an explanation for the phenomena it seeks to describe ought to be held in the utmost suspicion.” 16 likes
“It was a truism that all civilizations were basically neurotic until they made contact with everybody else and found their place within the ever-changing meta-civilisation of other beings, because, until then, during the stage when they honestly believed they might be entirely alone in existence, all solo societies were possessed of both an inflated sense of their own importance and a kind of existential terror at the sheer scale and apparent emptiness of the universe.” 4 likes
More quotes…