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The Player of Games (Culture series Book 2)

The Player of Games (Culture series Book 2) [Kindle Edition]

Iain M. Banks
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

In The Player of Games, Iain M. Banks presents a distant future that could almost be called the end of history. Humanity has filled the galaxy, and thanks to ultra-high technology everyone has everything they want, no one gets sick, and no one dies. It's a playground society of sports, stellar cruises, parties, and festivals. Jernau Gurgeh, a famed master game player, is looking for something more and finds it when he's invited to a game tournament at a small alien empire. Abruptly Banks veers into different territory. The Empire of Azad is exotic, sensual and vibrant. It has space battle cruisers, a glowing court-- all the stuff of good old science fiction--which appears old-fashioned in contrast to Gurgeh's home. At first it's a relief, but further exploration reveals the empire to be depraved and terrifically unjust. Its defects are gross exaggerations of our own, yet they indict us all the same. Clearly Banks is interested in the idea of a future where everyone can be mature and happy. Yet it's interesting to note that in order to give us this compelling adventure story, he has to return to a more traditional setting. Thoughtful science fiction readers will appreciate the cultural comparisons, and fans of big ideas and action will also be rewarded. -- Brooks Peck


Few of us have been exposed to a talent so manifest and of such extraordinary breadth (THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF SCIENCE FICTION )

Poetic, humorous, baffling, terrifying, sexy - the books of Iain M. Banks are all these things and more (NME )

Banks is an incredibly talented writer. All his books are lively and entertaining. They are laced with a wry humour, fascinating characters and inspired plots. THE PLAYER OF GAMES, I am pleased to say is no exception... Go on, treat yourself, you won't be disappointed. (STARBURST )

In The Player of Games, Iain M. Banks presents a distant future that could almost be called the end of history. Humanity has filled the galaxy, and thanks to ultra-high technology everyone has everything they want, no one gets sick, and no one dies. It's (Brooks Peck, AMAZON.CO.UK )

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 538 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; New Ed edition (4 Sep 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002TXZT4I
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #10,817 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Iain Banks came to widespread and controversial public notice with the publication of his first novel, THE WASP FACTORY, in 1984. He has since gained enormous popular and critical acclaim for both his mainstream and his science fiction novels.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to let a game take over your life... 14 Mar 2003
In "The Player Of Games", an immensely powerful but somewhat lazy and hedonistic man-machine society called the Culture plays a game against the much smaller but aggressively militaristic Empire of Azad. The Empire has as one of its key social drivers a hugely complex board game called Azad (which means Life). Successful players of Azad prosper in the Azadian society, winning promotions in the military and civil service. Every few years the society stages a major tournament at which the best Azad player becomes Emperor.
Into this milieu the Culture plays its "piece", a professional game-player called Gurgeh who has spent his entire life playing every sort of game of strategy but would probably hurt himself if he tried to use any kind of weapon. Gurgeh's attempts to compete in the Azad tournament reflect the many contrasts between the two civilisations - and also show up unexpected similarities.
This fine novel can be read in different ways. On one level, it's simply a blast - pacy, exciting, suspenseful widescreen space opera. Read it on a beach and get badly sunburnt. However, there's a lot more depth there if you want it. Banks raises a lot of interesting questions about how we set the rules of our society and how all kinds of play interact with those rules. Are cruelty and ruthlessness taught by game-play - whether in the children's playground or in multiplayer internet shoot-'em-ups - or do people's choice of games tell you about their society? Banks is a known addict of the "Civilization" series of strategy computer games, which many otherwise mild-mannered people play as brutal conquerors and commit acts which in Real Life(TM) would be war crimes. The Culture itself, of course, has gained power and stability at the expense of what one might call "soul".
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Player of Games 24 Feb 2003
By A Customer
My first dip into the sea of imagination created by Iain (M) Banks was this inspired story; The Player of Games. This novel not only displays the rich and flavourful society of the Culture it also exposes the way the it treats other societies considered 'inferior' or simply a potential threat to their eutopian-like way of life. Orchastrated by the Contact branch (a sort of special services network in the culture) the Culture sends their best strategest and game player, Jurgen Gurgeh, to the distant Empire of Azad to play in a contest of perhaps the greatest of games, one that forms the very positions one assumes in society, the highest prize: being made Emperor.
The sheer contrast between the Culture and Azadian societies is shown magnificently; where the Culture is open on all fronts we quickly see that, although the rise to power in the Azad system forms a seemingly stable Empire, underneath its glossy surface unimaginable and speakable acts are commited.
This intelligent and fast novel will have you racing to the next page, its sci-fi technology driven worlds, though deeply imaginative and original, will not leave you floundering in doubt. This is an extremely enjoyable read that despite its setting opens your eyes to how life actually is in OUR world, and how Societies today behave towards those seen as a threat.
If you are new to the Culture novels this eases you in with the expert edge only Banks possesses...
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Layers of Games 4 July 2006
Shifting between lives that mirror games, games that control lives, with confusion between reality, gameplay, and subterfuge, The Player of Games is a truly splendid novel. The story expands (along with Gurgeh's horizons) as homely Chiark is left far behind en route to play the Game, but the full stream of the narrative (and Banks' frankly mind-boggling imagination) really switches on when he reaches Azad.

A fantastic and deeply realised, well-characterised story. Beats me what the negative reviewers have been reading.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to like this book... 31 Jan 2007
This is not a book for purists (Iain Banks or Sci Fi). This is the most Culture-d(imho) of Banks' books. All the amusing ship names and foul mouthed witty droids are here, plus excellent alien races and sly and not so sly reference to modern popular culture. There are some great themes about boredom, cheating, redemption and the glory of untamed cultures with primaeval urges and how attractive that can be. The Culture does not come out of this one unscathed; but the rationale for its power and success is evident.

Banks continues a theme started in Consider Phlebas about the importance of games in a society where much of the danger, and therefore excitement has been diluted by obsessive and overbearing technology - people cannot even die decently and eventually get bored and order themselves to be destroyed; it seems that immortality will eventually suck.

The visceral thrill that the protagonist feels when he realises that his entire reputation is on the line because he has cheated is relevant to how we currently live today, fairly insulated from excitement or having hygiencally cleansed experiences like bungy jumping to try and reconnect with our limbic system and some more basic pleasures like, fear, lust and anger.

If you like the Culture element of Banks' books then this is the one to read and if you like a bit of redemption and thoughtfullness then go for it!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Ian Banks is my all time favourite Sci fi writer
Ian Banks is my all time favourite Sci fi writer. I have been enjoying the player of games so much I don't want it to end so have slowed down to enjoy it longer.
Published 1 month ago by Matthew John Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent will use again, Many thanks.
Published 1 month ago by ian watts
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Godd story. A bit drawn out. Well written.
Published 1 month ago by A. Browne
4.0 out of 5 stars A great idea for a story
A great roller coaster of a story from a master story teller. It took me a few pages to get into the story and once in I didn't come back out until I'd read the last page. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Chris Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely one of Banks best culture books
Definitely one of Banks best culture books. Reasonably predictable but Banks writes convincingly and draws you in consistently so that's ok. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Matthew Rye
4.0 out of 5 stars Slow start
I was about 40% of the way through the book and Gurgeh still hadn't left the orbital, I did wonder if this was a culture book with an adventure, or some kind of interplanetary soap... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Ryan Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome, intelligent sci fi epic
Awesome story and a great introduction to the series and setting of the culture!
Published 2 months ago by adam william kilvington
5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable science fiction
If the name doesn't give you enough of a hint, you will know right at the beginning, because the author tells you, that this is the story of a game that takes on significance of... Read more
Published 3 months ago by hfffoman
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book I have ever read, hands down.
There are no words for what this book means to me. It was first Banks book I read and picked it up just since I was reading books on games in general at blew my mind. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Stephen Riley
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 4 months ago by Jonathan
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