Book Title – The Player of Games
Series – Culture (book 2)
Genre – Sci-fi
Author – Iain M. Banks
If you’ve read Consider Phlebas, you may fear that this is occasionally clunky and occasionally hard to read. But it isn’t. This book is written beautifully.
There are a few harsh critics on this book, but I would suggest they are from people who have a preference for flat-out action novels or prefer intricately woven novels from different POV’s (such as the third book in the series). I found the main character believable, minor characters interesting, and the plot both fascinating and rewarding.
There is a lack of comic relief.
The entire novel builds the character and the proclivities of the entities involved. This leads to a very satisfying crescendo where you realise as much as you were surprised by everything that happened, it could not have happened any other way.
‘By being unknowable, by resulting from events which, at the sub-atomic level, cannot be fully predicted, the future remains malleable, and retains the possibility of change, the hope of coming to prevail; victory, to use an unfashionable word. In this, the future is a game; time is one of the rules.’
‘What, anyway, was he to say? That intelligence could surpass and excel the blind force of evolution, with its emphasis on mutation, struggle and death? That conscious cooperation was more efficient than feral competition?’
‘Escape is a commodity like anything else.’
I’ve read the first few books in the Culture series, and this was undoubtedly one of the best. It questions one of the things I’ve always thought true to myself – I prefer novels with heavy use of laser-guns and spaceships (ha, you was thinking that was going to be all philosophical!). This novel had a distinct lack of massive violence, thrown in just occasionally, and yet I still rate it as a favourite book.
Additional information/where to get it