The introduction to The Culture society and the protagonists life style was fascinating while at the same time showing the cracks in a potential utopia. The resulting narrative story keeps you hooked, even at times where the messaging seems over the top. The ending nuances took this book from good to great
The second book of the Culture series tells the story of a serious game player (think board games, card games, etc.) who is manipulated into traveling across the Galaxy to participate in a tournament where the winner becomes Emperor of an alien civilization.
The Culture is a vast, technically advanced civilization where great machine minds keep most of the human populace living in liberty and high luxury. With all their needs provided for, the people of the Culture spend a great deal of their time in research, art, and recreation. However, a small number join "Contact," the Culture organization responsible for engaging with other civilizations and trying to peacefully share the Culture's values with them. Occasionally, Contact encounters a civilization which is either dangerously hostile or so backwards that direct engagement with the Culture could be calamitous for their less advanced neighbors. These are "Special Circumstances," and the SC group handles them.
The Azadians are indeed a backward civilization by the Culture's standards; aggressive, repressive, brutal imperialists subjugating every world they encounter. But their Empire is ordered according to the intricately complicated game of Azad. Hence SC decides the best approach might be to send in one of their top gamers... Only in the Culture, no one can be forced to do anything, and their best candidate doesn't seem to be interested.
Peter Kenny does a fantastic job voicing the characters and smoothly moving the story along.
I am Yaman, I live in New Zealand, I come from Syria. I love audiobooks, and Audible is the best source for what I love!
a tough book to read, needs a vast imagination and a lot of focus, but great work. Love to see it as a motion picture! I plan to listen again in the future :)
The story itself was a very good story. It could have been so much better had the author dug deeper and drawn closer parallels between earth and the world in the book.
What a fascinating idea, if a higher if intelligence aliens came to observe humans and all our barbaric ways.
Sadly the story starts down that path but then the parallels break and their ceases to be a correlation.
It's just a well written sci-fi after that...nothing to put on must read list though.
This is one of the best novels I've read in awhile, the characters are vivid and leap off the page. Having finished the book I am saddened like the lead character that it is over - I will miss them! A delightful sci-fi romp and thinly veiled social commentary taking a look into a potential human society of the future where machines and man coexist as join minds for the greater society - in this episode we see a man manipulated into serving his society in a particularly fun and interesting way. A good read indeed!
The idea of a culture or society as an elaborate game is an old one, but rarely developed better than here. Games usually attempt to be a reflection of life, but a concept of one which is life in all its complexity is a fascinating idea, and one which Banks really brings to life here.
I have, and this one, as with all of his performances, is excellent. He does a great job of fitting his voice to the story and allowing you to get lost in the plot.
There is a moment where the protagonist is describing how he feels about winning, and the hollowness it creates. In games and in life there is a far greater satisfaction in playing beautifully than in winning, and this is something well captured by this scene.
I'm new to banks and was looking for something to quench my science fiction/space opera thirst after
reading all of my favorite authors books from Alistar Reynolds. Banks hits a home run with his own style scoring a top position as one of my new favorite authors!!!!!
A Sci Fi junkie who occasionally goes slumming to read other literature.
A master game player in the Culture, Gurgeh, is manipulated to play the game of Azad in the Empire of Azad, a game that determines status and success. Gurgeh does very well and ultimately begins to win the game against the emperor himself. A person's skill at the game is a reflection of their values. The implication is that a member of the Culture (which treats everyone equally, even drones) has higher values than a member of the empire (which is highly discriminatory). At the end, Gurgeh learns a little bit about his manipulation and has the opportunity to learn the whole truth, but doesn't seem too interested.
I sort of figured out half way through the novel what was going on, and I hoped that Gurgeh, rather than being manipulated, was in fact secretly manipulating the drones and everyone else. After all, he is one of the best game players of all time. He should have the ability to see life as a game and position himself well in the final outcome. I was disappointed that this brilliant person was clueless and nothing but a pawn.
The novel is interesting and was worth reading, but was a little bit one dimensional for me.
Peter Kenny is an awesome narrator. His variety and precision with voices is amazing.