The Player of Games (Culture #2)
The Culture - a human/machine symbiotic society - has thrown up many great Game Players, and one of the greatest is Gurgeh. Jernau Morat Gurgeh. The Player of Games. Master of every board, computer and strategy. Bored with success, Gurgeh travels to the Empire of Azad, cruel and incredibly wealthy, to try their fabulous game...a game so complex, so like life itself, that t...more
I had previously read and loved The Wasp Factory, Banks' classic first novel which was a fascinating glimpse into the psychology of a very disturbed young man in serious need of a hug. I also really enjoyed Consider Phlebas, which is the first of the Culture novels. With Banks having two big wins under his b...more
mea culpa: so i have been recommending that folks start...more
You are playing a game. In adjournment you are offered a cast iron safe opportunity to cheat. It won’t affect the outcome of the game, you are going to win anyway. But it may change how you win. So what do you do?
For the rest, here:
I'm struggling to find the words to express my awe in the wake of finishing this book. I feel much as I'd imagine a wizened game player would watching true masters dance across the board. Unable to do so myself, but completely transfixed by the beauty and depth of their movements.
I don't think I can recommend this highly enough. It isn't necessary to have read Consider Phlebas which is the first book in the Culture series. I've read half of it and had to stop t...more
In the Culture, all basic human needs are taken care of through technology, there is no war or crime, and its peoples are free to party...more
The wit makes this book very easy to ease in to. The Utopian society of the Culture is beautiful and diverse, seeming both alien and familiar to us in equal measure. The opening sections introduce us to th...more
Banks, though he seems like a cosmopolitan guy who's aware of the tropes he's using and their limitations, still commits the basic sin that makes so much science fiction so much less enjoyable to me than it could be. The sin: blandness. Blandness of writing, characterization, worldbuilding, humor -- everything. The problem, and it's not one wit...more
"Iain M. Banks was an incredible writer who wrote rich, diverse worlds that never shied away from the darker aspects of life, all the while weaving an entertaining yarn. He imagined a universe where utopianism went hand-in-hand with some of the harsher realities of existence and created an ideal that he put to the test with every new iteration in the Culture series."
Player of Games often is recommended as the best starting point for somebody new to Banks' writing or new to the Culture series. The reasoning is that Player of Games is more accessible to a wider audience than Consider Phlebas , the first of the Culture books to be written and the first chronologicaly i...more
The Player of Games more than makes up for any disappointment I felt over Consider Phlebas. In this return to the Culture universe, Banks manages to craft a character and a story that are co...more
It was a beautifully written book, with lots of great ideas, but the story just didn't do it for me. This is problematic, because I think that he is one of the most story driven modern sci fi authors out there. Quick word association game: Reynolds = suspense. Hamilton = world building. Banks = story. But the fact is, I could re...more
This was certainly better than the first Culture book I read (Matter) but I'm still not really sold. This book is playing with cultural relativism/absolutism, and what happens when a citizen of a supposed technological utopia encounters a violent, hierarchical, inherently unjust society. But the thing is, writing...more
Readers of SF&F nearly always have one book they reread every year. The book most frequently quoted as being the one which is reread every year is the Lord of the Rings. Famously Christopher Lee liked to reread Lord of the Rings. See story here.
It is true I have read and re-read Lord of the Rings, but the book I have read every year, and sometimes if feels like it is permanently on my bedside table is this one. The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks.
This is a Cultur...more
Here's that literary trinity that you get from the best Culture novels: An interesting, quirky protagonist; an interesting alien setting; and some juicy Culture backstory.
The main character Gurgeh is great: a misfit, forever feeling shut out in what is ostensibly the most inclusive society in the galaxy. He is dissected fairly and respectfully by Banks, showing both the good and the bad in him, and you can really see the layers of him and how he develops over the course of t...more
First warm up your chords with the following: Frodo. E.T. Harry Potter. That was easy.
Now let's try these: Doc Brown. HAL 9000. Buffy. Still ok? Now prepare to hurt!
Jernau Morat Gurgeh. Mawhrin-Sk...more
Of course, from the minute you start reading this story, you know that Gurgeh is going to win the Game, the fun is in the journey he has to make to get to it. Along the way, you get to really know what makes the Azad Empire tick, and it not coincidentally shines quite a light on the Culture as well.
The final confrontation between Gurgeh...more
When agents of The Culture suggest that he travel to a planet where an overwhelmingly complex game controls the social hierarchy, the bait has been dangled...
My book club opted to read this book last month in light of Banks' recent very bad news. Not all the readers love...more
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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
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The very first-rank games acknowledge the element of chance, even if they rightly restrict raw luck. To attempt to construct a game on any other lines, no matter how complicated and subtle the rules are, and regardless of the scale and differentiation of the playing volume and the variety of the powers and attibutes of the pieces, is inevitably to schackle oneself to a conspectus which is not merely socially but techno-philosophically lagging several ages behind our own. As a historical exercise it might have some value, As a work of the intellect, it's just a waste of time. If you want to make something old-fashioned, why not build a wooden sailing boat, or a steam engine? They're just as complicated and demanding as a mechanistic game, and you'll keep fit at the same time.”