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The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks

The Player of Games (1988)

by Iain M. Banks

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Culture (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,4641241,099 (4.14)1 / 260
  1. 20
    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. 01
    Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (jeroenvandorp)

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English (115)  French (5)  Italian (2)  Finnish (1)  Spanish (1)  All (124)
Showing 1-5 of 115 (next | show all)
Gurgeh, one of the greatest game-players of the utopian Culture, is invited by the Culture's Contact division to play a game called Azal, which is also the organizing principle of an empire of the same name. The prize for winning Azal? The position of Emperor. This is one of those psychological novels where I wound up not liking the psychology of the main character very much (it was well done, just not appealing), but the whole thing was so fascinating that I couldn't stop reading. I'm excited to read the rest of the Culture novels, now. ( )
  jen.e.moore | Feb 12, 2017 |
Gurgeh is a sucessful game player. Special Circumstances asks him to travel to the Empire of Azal, a brutal, powerful empire, to compete in the game of Azal, a game so complecated that the winner becomes the Emperor.

Is it just about a game or does Special Circumstances have an agenda that Gurgeh doesn't know about?

I really enjoyed this book.

My favorite Culture ship names in this book are:
Of Course I Still Love You
Just Read the Instructions.

Favorite Quote:

"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! ( )
  nx74defiant | Feb 1, 2017 |
A good place to start if you want to get into Bank's Culture stories, it's a good story although I think he's written better books since. Well worth reading though. ( )
  David.Manns | Nov 28, 2016 |
I loved book 2, more than the first in the series, and can't wait to keep on reading. For more of my review on the Culture series check out my blog: http://girlsguidetoscifi.blogspot.ca/2013/09/the-man-who-sold-world-review-of.ht.... ( )
  HollyBest | Jun 9, 2016 |
It is not possible to say enough good things about this book for it is among the best I have read in the last few years. If you love sci fi, stop what you're doing right now, go to the library, and order this book. I am amazed that this book came to me through the Randomizer for usually the Randomizer has spat out the worst dregs of the 1001 List. Suffice it to say I was engaged within the first few pages and my interest never flagged. I was disappointed to reach the end so will begin reading all the books in the Contact series. It certainly deserves to be on The 1001 List. ( )
  ShelleyAlberta | Jun 4, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 115 (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.)
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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)

» see all 4 descriptions

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