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 his death.
©2008 Iain M. Banks (P)2011 Hachette Audio
"Poetic, humorous, baffling, terrifying, sexy - the books of Iain M. Banks are all these things and more." (NME)
"An exquisitely riotous tour de force of the imagination which writes its own rules simply for the pleasure of breaking them." (Time Out)
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.
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.
Audible is the soundtrack to my busy, city-walking life!
Loved this book so much. From the creative world building to the questions it raises for me about human nature and our perceptions of what a civilized society is.
It took some time to get into the story. After getting used to the sci-fi I loved it.
I understand why Musk and Zuckerberg love the book and use it as a vision of our possible future.
I've heard a fair amount of praise for this author, and this was supposed to be his best. I had tried starting with his first book (Consider Phlebas) and it failed to grab me, to the extent that I gave up around halfway through. Disappointed in that, but thinking that 'Hey, an author's early work is usually poorer,' and knowing Banks' books to be more episodic than not, I thought I would give him another chance, but alas.
It's hard for me to describe why I grow so easily bored with this author. I can say that some of it stems from feeling unattached to most of the characters, the main protagonists especially. Gurgeh, the main for this book, was too close a Mary Sue for my tastes. I cared very little as to whether he would succeed or fail, especially after some rather cartoonish efforts were made to make his opponents (a whole civilization) out to be thoroughly vile and contemptuous.
Spoilers (sort of?) from this point on.
The fact that Gurgeh was shown to be obviously capable of breezing through every obstacle in his path, yet still had to be manipulated into doing "what needed to be done", and therefore was not so much the glorious hero as a selfish but useful buffoon, didn't make him any more interesting or respectable, it just made me feel all the more disappointed for giving *his* story any attention. The perspective of his handler(s) might have been more interesting, but on the whole, the lack of any real conflict/challenge means it would likely feel stagnant either way.
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