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The Player of Games (Culture, #2)
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This is our discussion of the Classic Science Fiction novel....

The Player of Games (Culture, #2) by Iain M. Banks The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks
(1997)


Rachel | 526 comments First chapter - first question- how is everyone pronouncing main characters name?


Silvana (silvaubrey) Apologies, I will be late in starting this. Hoping to begin on Monday.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) I pronounce it "GUR-geh" bit I have no idea if that's right or not. For some reason I picture him as Jeff Goldblum.


message 5: by [deleted user] (last edited Sep 02, 2018 05:48PM) (new)

Randy wrote: "I pronounce it "GUR-geh" bit I have no idea if that's right or not. For some reason I picture him as Jeff Goldblum."

My goto for odd names is Audible: You can listen to a 5 minute sample of most books. (No guarantee it'll include the name you're looking for, but in this case the sample included an entire 3-part name. Last one sounded like Gur-GAY to me.)

Personally, I rarely consider about pronunciations.


Donald | 157 comments I pronounce it as it's read. ;)


message 7: by Silvana (last edited Sep 02, 2018 11:19PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Silvana (silvaubrey) Randy wrote: "I pronounce it "GUR-geh" bit I have no idea if that's right or not. For some reason I picture him as Jeff Goldblum."

Okay, now I am totally picturing him as Goldblum LOL

I pronounce it Gur (ur sound like in Sir) and Geh (eh like in meh). But eh as in gay also possible.

Any of you guys are gamers or love games? Any specific expectation when you first read this? Does the title "games" make it more attractive/enticing?

For me, since I'm not a gamer and find it difficult to understand board game instructions (seriously), I am rather intimidated by the title and hoping this book will go easy on me.


Silvana (silvaubrey) 5%. Does anyone get the Machineries of Empire vibe here? The colorful constructs reminds me of the servitor bots there. Some other small scenes also ring lots of bells.

I am beginning to enjoy the Culture universe!


Rachel | 526 comments I made it to part 2- so I expect things will start gaining steam now ; that the set-up is complete. I feel it started quite s lot slower than say Machineries but perhaps necessary to understand Gurgeh?


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) Rachel wrote: "I made it to part 2- so I expect things will start gaining steam now ; that the set-up is complete. I feel it started quite s lot slower than say Machineries but perhaps necessary to understand Gurgeh?"

I'm at the same place in the book, starting part 2 today. My thoughts echo yours - long set-up but looks like the story will start moving a little faster now.


Donald | 157 comments Silvana wrote: "Randy wrote: "I pronounce it "GUR-geh" bit I have no idea if that's right or not. For some reason I picture him as Jeff Goldblum."

Okay, now I am totally picturing him as Goldblum LOL

I pronounce..."


I'm a bit of a gamer (more so in the past) but I don't recall any bits that made me go "oh yeah, I get this because of that". It just felt like a convenient title and plot angle rather than vital to it - it could have almost been someone knowing a particular language, without the plot significantly changing (or indeed it may be viewed as a twist where the game is a language).


message 12: by Clare (last edited Sep 05, 2018 02:23AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Clare O'Beara | 1142 comments Nah, Jeff Goldblum doesn't look Scottish so I picture the protagonist like Banks himself.
I met Banks at a reading in a bookstore in Dublin. Full of students. This was to publicise Whit.


Clare O'Beara | 1142 comments I distributed 18 copies of this book for World Book Night a few years ago.


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Book Nerd (book_nerd_1) | 154 comments Silvana wrote: "Any of you guys are gamers or love games? Any specific expectation when you first read this? Does the title "games" make it more attractive/enticing? "

Video games haven't thrilled me since the 90s but I do love board games and this idea of an ultimate board game was pretty cool.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) Clare wrote: "Nah, Jeff Goldblum doesn't look Scottish so I picture the protagonist like Banks himself.
I met Banks at a reading in a bookstore in Dublin. Full of students. This was to publicise Whit."


Scottish? Oh no, now I'm going to start picturing him as Mike Myers.

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/xgzfxs


message 16: by Silvana (last edited Sep 06, 2018 07:18AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Silvana (silvaubrey) Just finished part 1 and as I predicted, I don't understand the game played by Gurgeh where he (view spoiler)
Suffice to say, I don't find Gurgeh likable at all. Anyone felt the same so far?

I find the Culture's game habit is rather weird since they only had card and board games. Why no computer or augmented reality games? Anyway, I liked the AIs. Mawhrin-Skel is so cheeky and devious! I hope to see more of him.

This is my first culture novel and I think I could actually live there. No poverty, sickness, violence. I could pursue any hobby I want and read all the books I have. Any other better SF utopias out there?

Anyway, going to chapter 2. I have a baaaad feeling about the Azad.


Silvana (silvaubrey) 58%. Man, this is boring. Azadians are the worst. The ambassador was so sleazy he made my skin crawl. Anyway somehow I think Banks model Azad as example of humanity's less favorable traits: inane power games, discrimination, slavery, violence, xenophobia and so on..

One thing that bugs me is that the book has four chapters only, each is super long, so it is kind of hard to phase my reading.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) Silvana wrote: "...I think Banks model Azad as example of humanity's less favorable traits: inane power games, discrimination, slavery, violence, xenophobia and so on...."

I agree with you an I was thinking the same thing while the droid was describing the Azad society to Gurgeh. Other than their tri-sexual nature (which I assume will play a part in the storyline later?) the Azad seem to resemble the worst traits of humanity, a yang to the Culture's ying one might say.

And I agree with your prior post that Gurgeh is not very likeable, I assume this was intentional on the part of the author.


Clare O'Beara | 1142 comments I think a more likeable, relatable character would not be so obsessed with playing epic high stakes games like this. It's quite a solitary, ego driven pastime. And they would refuse to take part in a game in which people were the game pieces and could potentially suffer. Banks had to create a character who would do all this and not be a robot.


Rachel | 526 comments Yes I think Claire is right - Gurgeh could not have been good at Azad if he didn’t have a bit of Azad in his personality already

Finished this morning and it does pick up in the second half quite a bit!


Clare O'Beara | 1142 comments Silvana says:
"One thing that bugs me is that the book has four chapters only, each is super long, so it is kind of hard to phase my reading."

The Dune Dune (Dune Chronicles, #1) by Frank Herbert books don't have any chapter breaks and I remember my brother didn't like this either, because he would think he'd read until the end of the chapter, and there wasn't one. I didn't notice immediately and by the time I did notice I didn't care, I'd got used to the style.

Chapters are a complete construct. Some authors use them to switch scenes. Some use them to break up a long dragged out scene into bite sizes. Some authors end every one with a twist, or a shriek, which quickly turns readers off the tale. These are parts of the architecture of the book, not part of the story. In Use of Weapons
Use of Weapons (Culture, #3) by Iain M. Banks Banks uses chapters to switch between two timelines.

My crime books have the usual chapters because that is what readers are used to seeing, but my SF has longer sections which serve to break up the book into related pieces. Can be fun to play with these, where to break. I figure SF readers are more flexible and used to innovation. I get the odd comment that 'it keeps you reading'.


Silvana (silvaubrey) Was sick at home but at least I finished this. Could not say I like it - I was either bored or appalled by the violence - but the ending was rather good.

Did you guys knew that (view spoiler)


Clare O'Beara | 1142 comments Silvana, I have not read this in a few years so I won't comment. Can't remember what I knew when.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) Rachel wrote: "Finished this morning and it does pick up in the second half quite a bit!"

Thank God! I'm halfway through and still bored.


Clare O'Beara | 1142 comments Not a lot happens, but it does so quite compellingly, is my recollection.


Silvana (silvaubrey) Randy wrote: "Rachel wrote: "Finished this morning and it does pick up in the second half quite a bit!"

Thank God! I'm halfway through and still bored."


I think it really picks up in the third part. I think the second part is much better than the first.

Anyone who finished the book, what do you think about the violence level in this book? I found it really disturbing and kind of wished I could skip those parts and the book should come with a trigger warning.


Rachel | 526 comments I had to skip over much of the ‘hunting’ scene until you know what happens.


Clare O'Beara | 1142 comments Banks' SF is disturbing, as anyone who has read Use of Weapons will know. That is just what you get. Some of his contemporary fiction is also very, very disturbing. One of them I won't have in the house. To be fair, his more normal characters also find scenes disturbing / repulsive.


Clare O'Beara | 1142 comments I occasionally spot a word which now exists only in negative form, like disgruntled. Disturbing qualifies. Anyone here been turbed?


message 30: by [deleted user] (new)

Clare wrote: "I occasionally spot a word which now exists only in negative form, like disgruntled. Disturbing qualifies. Anyone here been turbed?"

The mark of an ept vocabulary.


Silvana (silvaubrey) Clare, I think you hit the point previously when you said the main character needs to be like Gurgeh so he could stomach all the violence he witnessed. (view spoiler)


Rachel | 526 comments Looking back at my first comment about his name- seems funny now since the pronunciation of his name gets a lot of attention once we get to Azad


message 33: by Luffy (new)

Luffy (monkey-d-luffy) Clare wrote: "Silvana says:
"One thing that bugs me is that the book has four chapters only, each is super long, so it is kind of hard to phase my reading."

The Dune Dune (Dune Chronicles, #1) by Frank Herbert books ..."


Terry Pratchett too didn't write his discworld books with chapters. It always bothered me.


Silvana (silvaubrey) Really? Pratchett was never boring to me so maybe that is why I did not even realize he did not use chapters.


Clare O'Beara | 1142 comments True, I notice this afresh each time I read a Discworld.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) Silvana wrote: "I think it really picks up in the third part."

I'm finally at the third chapter. It started getting more interesting for me when Goldblum went for a nighttime tour with Flenser-Imajica or whatever it's called. Before that there were interesting parts but they were surrounded by long dull stretches.


Silvana (silvaubrey) Flenser-Imajica LMAO! 😆


message 38: by RJ - Slayer of Trolls (last edited Sep 27, 2018 11:07AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) I finally finished. I thought it was a decent story but I wish the plot had moved a little faster in the early goings. The two cultures were both interesting and thought-provoking and I enjoyed the Azad game although it was never really fully explained. Some of the characters were well-developed but others weren't. It's hard to believe this book is 30 years old - it feels more recent in many ways including its treatment of sex changes in the Culture and also some of the technology.

Silvana wrote: "Did you guys knew that [spoilers removed]"

I guessed it pretty early.

By the way, I thought the bracelet that the female C3P0 gave him was going to be of some use, so I was disappointed that nothing ever happened with it.


Clare O'Beara | 1142 comments Sometimes a bracelet is just a bracelet.
If this was a short story, there would be no room for extraneous detail, so the bracelet would have to have a second purpose.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) Clare wrote: "Sometimes a bracelet is just a bracelet.
If this was a short story, there would be no room for extraneous detail, so the bracelet would have to have a second purpose."


Chekhov would not be pleased.


Clare O'Beara | 1142 comments I guess the story did have a gloomy air.


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