Say something about yourself!
On the surface this is a great adventure story in which the playing of games becomes as exciting as a physical combat scene in an action movie. Underneath it is a provocative discussion of how intelligent individuals who live as part of larger social groups might best arrange their relationships with each other. The themes are abstract, brilliantly captured in the game play itself, yet never, ever tedious or boring. I agree with reviewer Guy that this is a great introduction to the The Culture series, so this is especially recommended for those who have not previously encountered Banks. Peter Kenny read the story brilliantly, doing an exceptional job of giving each character a unique voice.
I enjoyed this book immensely, even more than Consider Phlebas and I really hope that Peter Kenny will narrate Use of Weapons, The State of the Art and especially Excession of which I've heard great things. Please release these books on Audible. The Culture Series is fantastic. Thanks to Banks for this work of art and Kenny for narrating. If you enjoyed The Player of Games then please take a moment to write the publishers or contact audible and ask them to release the rest of the series on audio.
Tell us about yourself!
Yes! This is one of my favorite Culture novels. It presents the story of a cuture citizen traveling to a non-Culture world to play a game. The visit, of course, is engineered by Special Circumstances so you KNOW something will happen. When it does, of course, it's marvelous and even better than you are thinking.
Love the tiny twist at the end of the story... listen to the very very end!
The droids! Of course. :)
Iain M Banks is one of my favorite authors, and this early culture book is possibly the best one to start with - it has the most accessible and linear plot but is still though provoking and gripping. Peter Kenny does an outstanding job reading this as well as other Iain Banks books (Surface Detail for instance). I must have read this book at least half a dozen times since it first came out almost 20 years ago, listening to Peter Kenny made it seem brand new. I can't recommend it highly enough.
Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.
And the winner is.... THE DROIDS!!!
Yeah, of course the best part of The Player of Games (TPoG) is the droids and how they are played by Peter Kenny who, I believe, makes this book much more than it would have been without his involvement. TPoG is Not a Game of Thrones by any stretch of the imagination nor is it even in the class of something like The Glass Bead Game of Hermann Hesse though certainly some comparison may be drawn. For example, “the game” or the rules of which, are only alluded to in each book and are so sophisticated that they are not easy to imagine. Playing the game well requires years of practice and we are lead to believe the hero of our story becomes such a master on his trip to the planet where it is played. The stakes are high, any thing from castration to death by torture, but the reward, ah yes the reward: emperor over this planet of ethnocentric, sexist, megalomaniac planet of degenerates. Sound interesting? Me thinks not. I found the performance to be excellent but what the narrator had to work with utterly moronic, waste-of-time and -credit stupid.
This was my introduction to the Iain Banks Culture. I chose this book because a reviewer said that it was a good intro to that series. I seldom give up on an author after just one book so I will continue to search for another installment in the hopes that something more than this drivel will obtain.
This is an idea book. And there are lots of good ones. The world building is amazing. Not a ton of action an adventure and the main character is not terribly likable. I was tempted to quit reading at one point because I wasn't sure if I cared what happened to him, but I did finish and was glad I did. I think I will try a few other books by this author.
Okay, this is my last Iain Banks book. I gave him two tries, and that should be enough.
Someone else mentioned that this could have been a novella. That is true and all you really need to know.
He's not a bad writer. And the book does have a satisfying conclusion. It just didn't take me in the direction I wanted it to go. Too much time was spent on inconsequential things, in my opinion. I also do not like the amount of sexual references and depravity that we see or hear mention of. Sure the Empire is a decrepit and corrupt place and needs to go, but there must have been more tasteful ways to convey that.
The personalities of the droids shine through again, and he does a good job of describing the game without getting too bogged down in details. I just don't understand why both this book and the previous one, Consider Phlebas, actually center around fringe storylines rather then really taking us through the Culture and all the vast wonders that must surely be part of it.
Alas, I don't have the patience to try another one to see if this ever happens.
I'm a Hard SF & Space Opera-loving, alien android from the future. I bring gifts of SciFi eBooks & accessories for your leader's Kindle. Take me to him/her/it.
I loved Banks' terrific extrapolations of philosophies & technologies into believable societies. It had the right balance of action and slower, thought-intensive scenes that one would expect in the mind of a professional gamer, such as the protagonist. I do find the omnipotence of The Culture to be a detraction here, as the stakes don't seem to rise very high; there is an unexciting feeling of invulnerability that might be better left in some doubt. I also really enjoyed the ending twists, although many were unguessable due to the 'silver bullet' SF tropes employed.
I'm an aspiring author, a lawyer, a sci-fi fan, a father, and a harsh critic of pretty much everything. I enjoy audiobooks because I read very slowly, and audiobooks allow me to consume novels at a rate that would be impossible for me to achieve with printed text.
The Culture novels get a lot of praise, and so I've tried to break into the series many times. I started in with Matter, lost interest and then tried Consider Phlebas, lost interest and then finally tried The Player of Games, which was supposed to be the best entry point into the Culture universe.
As with the first two novels I tried, I found that Banks has no interest in easing the reader into his universe. In fact, had I not already had a little bit of back story from my brief forays into his other works, I probably would have been left with a lot more questions at the end of this novel.
Thoughts on the writing style: It's somewhat engaging, accessible certainly, but far from captivating. This was not a page-turner so to speak.
There were moments, conservatively scattered, where I did find myself very invested in the protagonist... but then there were also passages that hardly even held my attention. Oddly when I tuned back in 20 minutes later, I found I really hadn't missed anything critical.
There are definitely some very clever aspects to the Culture universe. I love Banks's handling of robots- from tiny droids to powerful AI minds he them utilizes them more cleverly than almost any sci-fi writer I've encountered.
The characters and the plot seem under cooked in this novel, but Banks's unusually sharp grasp of humanity's inevitable progress in the future kept everything on track.
I realize that this is one of Banks's earlier attempts, and so I am hopeful that as I return to some of his newer works I will find that he grew into a better author regarding character development and crafting suspense.
Commercial Real Estate Appraiser since 1971, graduate of University of Oregon, four grandchildren, wonderful wife.
One of the best Si/Fi stories yet.
The little drone. Flir Imsol.
Yes, equally well done, love his reading of the Culture series.
The good vs evil concept.
The most creative and innovative authors in his genere.