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The Player of Games (Culture) Paperback – March 26, 2008
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From Library Journal
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
But there are still parts of the galaxy, or at least parts of the Magellanic Clouds, where the Culture has not yet gained influence. Those parts of the Galaxy are the business of Contact, the part of the very loose government of the Culture that deals with alien civilizations. And in the difficult cases, Special Circumstances steps in to solve the problem. "Special Circumstances," like most names in Banks' books, is a euphemism: "Special Circumstances" isn't bound by the legal, moral or cultural constraints that bind the rest of the Culture.
Gurgeh, the protagonist, is recruited, perhaps blackmailed, by Special Circumstances to help Contact with an awkwardly difficult alien culture. The Azadians present a space-faring civilization, less advanced than the Culture but still powerful, whose entire ethos is based on The Game. Social position, military rank, governmental power, wealth; all of Azad is based on one's performance in The Game. Gurgeh is one of the Culture's best games players. Special Circumstances sends Gurgeh to Azad to compete in The Game.
At one level, Banks is writing about the effect of an advanced culture on a less advanced one. At another, he is having fun with a traditional space opera culture that is in contact with his more subtle and sophisticated one. At another, he is poking fun at traditional SF authors.Read more ›
The above aside, the story is compelling, the writing superb, and the author's premise intelligent without being condescending or dense. Banks has created a version of Utopia, called the Culture, and thought it through quite well. Ownership and status have been eliminated, there's plenty of space, there's equality (even sentient machines share the same status as humans), people can internally create whatever drugs/state of mind they need/want and even select their gender, and people are happy and engaged. So when Jernau Gergeh, a professional game player, is recruited to play the game of Azad in the far-distant empire of Azad, he is reluctant to leave his home for the five years the game will take. But Gurgeh does leave, and Azad turns out to be a civilization much more like our own than that of the Culture. Azad is hierarchical, crowded and violent, and status is everything.
One of the interesting things that Banks has done is to make us recognize ourselves in the empire of Azad, while still finding ways to make the Azadians different than the alien races one so often finds in mediocre science fiction writing. For one thing, the Azadians have three genders. Banks also focuses on the difference between the languages of the Culture and the empire, and how language may shape thought.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great story that starts off well and truly mired I'm the utopian but soon takes you away to something disorders much better. Never has alien and primitive been so much fun. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Amazon Customer
A Culture Series novel - nothing more needs be said - Great Read !!!Published 3 days ago by Ashtabula
I had read that many of Space-x's rockets and drone platforms were named after spaceships in this book, and that Elon Musk recommended it. So, I decided to read it. Read morePublished 4 days ago by James A Proctor
Smart and fun. A little painful but not quite as masochistic as the first one.Published 17 days ago by Natasha jaffe
This book was so good I have a boner for the series. Seriously. If you like sci-fi, this is a must.Published 20 days ago by AlohaState
Iain M. Banks began his series of novels about the Culture in Consider Phlebas. I enjoyed that novel but thought it had a number of flaws. Read morePublished 24 days ago by TChris
Definitely one of the great sci-fi novels on offer. Fantastic plot. Unpredictable. Highly recommended.Published 1 month ago by Johann David Renner
I can't believe it took me so long to discover the Culture novels. Very refreshing hard sci fi.Published 1 month ago by Rory Howington