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The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks
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The Player of Games (original 1988; edition 1997)

by Iain M. Banks

Series: The Culture (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,4251971,481 (4.15)1 / 323
Fiction. Science Fiction. 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 the winner becomes emperor. Mocked, blackmailed, almost murdered, Gurgeh accepts the game, and with it the challenge of his life ‚?? and very possibly h… (more)
Member:cheech
Title:The Player of Games
Authors:Iain M. Banks
Info:HarperCollins (1997), Paperback, 293 pages
Collections:Your library
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Work Information

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

Recently added byjockmchaggis, magnetic_surfer, gamesbook, Valsh, Bloum, neurokarma, private library, sha1maneser
  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. 20
    Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee (kaydern)
    kaydern: High sci-fi with excellently complex worldbuilding.
  3. 10
    The Gameshouse by Claire North (Cecrow)
  4. 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.
  5. 00
    The Game-Players of Titan by Philip K. Dick (Cecrow)
  6. 00
    The Pollutant Speaks by Alex Cochran (loribee)
    loribee: Love these two and they seem to be extensions of the same basic idea.
  7. 13
    Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (jeroenvandorp)
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» See also 323 mentions

English (186)  French (5)  Spanish (2)  Italian (2)  Finnish (1)  All languages (196)
Showing 1-5 of 186 (next | show all)
This is definitely the most satisfying of Banks' novels I have read so far. While I have enjoyed all of them, the others' endings seemed.... well, just not as good as the rest of the book. [b:The Player of Games|18630|The Player of Games|Iain M. Banks|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1166984450s/18630.jpg|1494157], however, is evenly good from start to finish. I particularly like how Banks' AI characters are portrayed. They are not "robotic" in any recognizable sense, but they are certainly not "human" either. If you are just coming to Banks' "Culture" novels, I would recommend starting with this one (at least of the handful that I've read). ( )
  Treebeard_404 | Jan 23, 2024 |
Below expectations; some cartoonish moments à la Rick & Morty. I prefer dead serious SF. ( )
  postsign | Dec 28, 2023 |
I love this book. This is one of those books that I re-read every few years. It's science fiction by one of my favorite science fiction authors, but it's not really about science fiction. ( )
  MistakeNot... | Dec 25, 2023 |
3.5. I have never read any of Graham Greene's spy novels, but I imagine they read exactly like The Player of Games, if you swap out the colonialism and espionage for science fiction tropes. The book follows professional gamer Gurgeh as he leaves the post-Singularity utopia of the Culture for the barbaric Empire, where an immensely complex board game mediates access to political power. What ensues is an enjoyable fish-out-of-water story full of ambiguity and political subterfuge.

Banks is a talented writer, and the Player of Games is technically excellent. The worldbuilding is inventive, marked by a pervasive strangeness (I loved the ships that appear to be named by algorithm), and held together by the brilliant central concept of games serving as a symbolic language for power and ideology.

I admired this novel, but I never really fell in love with it. The characters and story felt slightly flat and remote, perhaps by design. The comparisons I kept drawing to British colonial literature (Joseph Conrad also comes to mind) meant that the Azadian Empire felt othered / Orientalized, much more so than, say, the Gethenians in The Left Hand of Darkness.

Definitely a must-read if you're a gamer, but didn't hit the sweet spot for me. ( )
  raschneid | Dec 19, 2023 |
It has been probably three or four years since I read this book. Yes, I gave it 2 stars then. Yes, I was rethinking this decision since and rethinking it even now while writing this haste review. I was either very depressed or very stupid or very young in brain that time. I didn't know that this book and what it represents will hunt me through all this years in The Real very hard and very persistent. It stays with me even when all other Culture books just fall back in emotional background and vague feelings of what was someday somewhere.

To tell the truth, I never understood The Game of Life before this book. And I don't understand it now. I just know that it is here, it is real, it is in The Real. Even more, this book is what probably gave me reasons that I could understood and make for. That I could search, fall back and move forward. That there is always more to life that I see or do.

Ah, if not now then when. The real 5 stars and "one-of-a-kind" shelf. ( )
  WorkLastDay | Dec 17, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 186 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Banks, Iain M.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Benini, MilenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kenny, PeterNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Keynäs, VilleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Salwowski, MarkCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
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.
Quotations
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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Wikipedia in English (1)

Fiction. Science Fiction. 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 the winner becomes emperor. Mocked, blackmailed, almost murdered, Gurgeh accepts the game, and with it the challenge of his life ‚?? and very possibly h

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Azad Empire

A game that is not a game

Careful how you play

(amweb)

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Hachette Book Group

An edition of this book was published by Hachette Book Group.

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