Book Title – The Player of Games
Series – Culture (book 2)
Genre – Sci-Fi
Author – Iain M. Banks
Language and Storytelling
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 the category of people who have a preference for flat-out action, or prefer intricately woven stories from different POV’s (such as the third book in the series). This is a character novel more than anything, and it excels at it in terms that are hard to explain without you just going and reading it. The main character is believable, minor characters interesting, and the plot travelled through both fascinating and rewarding.
There is a lack of comic relief, but it suits the book.
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?’
Info you might care about
Of the first few books in the Culture series, this was to me undoubtedly one of the best. This 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 thought I was going to be all philosophical about myself there didn’t you?). This novel has a distinct lack of massive violence, thrown in just occasionally, and yet I still rate it as a favourite book.
This novel is part of a series of ten books, all of which can be quite different, and altogether give grand escapism into another time and place.
It scores well on goodreads, you can check it out at Iain M. Banks The Player of Games.
Featured image from talonrazor found here.