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The Player of Games (Culture) by Iain M.…

The Player of Games (Culture) (original 1988; edition 2008)

by Iain M. Banks

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,7741331,419 (4.14)1 / 273
Title:The Player of Games (Culture)
Authors:Iain M. Banks
Info:Orbit (2008), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 416 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks (1988)

  1. 30
    Second Game by Charles V. de Vet (DisassemblyOfReason)
    DisassemblyOfReason: Another alien civilization wherein one's status as a game player has a direct relationship to one's status in society, and to which a human game player has been deliberately sent to play the game.
  2. 10
    Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee (kaydern)
    kaydern: High sci-fi with excellently complex worldbuilding.
  3. 00
    The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin (themulhern)
    themulhern: Two opposing cultures collide in both works. Urras = The Empire but their opposites (Annares and The Culture) have very little in common. Annares is determined by scarcity, the Culture by its lack.
  4. 03
    Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (jeroenvandorp)

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English (123)  French (5)  Italian (2)  Finnish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (132)
Showing 1-5 of 123 (next | show all)
The Player of Games is a hard book to get into at first, but about a third way in it did become interesting. I read this book for A Year of Books, which it did not make sense to me to pick a book that is 2nd in a series, I guess they kind of stand on their own, but at first it really is like wtf is going on. It’s a whole made up world and I had no clue what I was reading until a good while into the book. With that said, once I got the feel for it, the book was much better. It’s a story about a futuristic socialist society so the civilians and drones have time to do whatever they please, the main character Gurgeh plays games. Thankfully the book does not go too in-depth of what these games are or the moves, that would be boring as hell. He is blackmailed to compete at an Empire that is not part of Culture. While doing so it compares their society to Culture and explains how important the game is to the Empire of Azad. Then the plot gets old, so many times can the author vaguely explain the game going on before it gets boring, yes you want to find out who will win and how the Empire will react if the alien wins, but it does at an annoying pace towards the end. An overall decent book that kept me interested, but not something I would read again or want to continue the series.

I am bowing out of the A Year of Books bookclub/challenge. Some books have been really great and I am glad to have read them, because I wouldn’t of otherwise. However, too many of them have been dull, some I’ve had to skim through because there was absolutely no interest in them. While most fall in the not good, not great category, that’s not good enough. They are interesting and informative, but it ends up feeling like work to get through the book and I have too many books in my to be read pile to add new books and read immediately that end up just being okay. I might come back to it, especially if I feel I am in a reading slump, or want to read something I wouldn’t pick, but maybe (probably) not. ( )
  wellreadcatlady | Oct 4, 2018 |
Omg yes. More, please. ( )
  _rixx_ | Aug 30, 2018 |
Masterpiece of SciFi, alien and human at the same time. The character development is subtle but constant so that when the curtain is pulled back at the end things make sense and you don't feel cheated.

Like all Banks novels there are the cheap secondary character deaths that feel like they should have more impact story wise and for the main characters. ( )
  bhutton | Jul 24, 2018 |
Uneven? ( )
  natcontrary | May 21, 2018 |
More limited in scope than "Consider Phlebas". The Empire of Azad has all too much in common with the repressive, reactionary, and would-be reactionary regimes here on Earth. The protagonist has a brief and very sad interaction with an aspiring female game player (who has been told that she is lucky, because no one would like to admit that she might be good). The remarks about personal pronouns by the narrator are mordantly snarky. ( )
  themulhern | May 10, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 123 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Banks, Iain M.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kenny, PeterNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Keynäs, VilleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Salwowski, MarkCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For James S Brown, who once said 'Azshashoshz.'
First words
This is the story of a man who went far away for a long time, just to play a game.
Does Gurgeh really understand what he's done, and what might happen to him? Has it even begun to occur to him that he might have been tricked? And does he really know what he's let himself in for?

Of Course not!

That's part of the fun!
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary
Azad Empire

A game that is not a game

Careful how you play


Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0316005401, Paperback)

In The Player of Games, Iain M. Banks presents a distant future that could almost be called the end of history. Humanity has filled the galaxy, and thanks to ultra-high technology everyone has everything they want, no one gets sick, and no one dies. It's a playground society of sports, stellar cruises, parties, and festivals. Jernau Gurgeh, a famed master game player, is looking for something more and finds it when he's invited to a game tournament at a small alien empire. Abruptly Banks veers into different territory. The Empire of Azad is exotic, sensual, and vibrant. It has space battle cruisers, a glowing court--all the stuff of good old science fiction--which appears old-fashioned in contrast to Gurgeh's home. At first it's a relief, but further exploration reveals the empire to be depraved and terrifically unjust. Its defects are gross exaggerations of our own, yet they indict us all the same. Clearly Banks is interested in the idea of a future where everyone can be mature and happy. Yet it's interesting to note that in order to give us this compelling adventure story, he has to return to a more traditional setting. Thoughtful science fiction readers will appreciate the cultural comparisons, and fans of big ideas and action will also be rewarded. --Brooks Peck

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:45 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

In the human-machine symbiotic society called The Culture, there have been many great game players. One, Gurgeh, is a master of every board, computer, and strategy. He travels to the Empire of Azad to try its game, one so complex and like life itself, that the winner becomes emperer. With this game, he takes on the challenge of his life, and possibly his death.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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