The Player of Games

{5/5} “All reality is a game. Physics at its most fundamental, the very fabric of our universe, results directly from the interaction of certain fairly simple rules, and chance; the same description may be applied to the best, most elegant and both intellectually and aesthetically satisfying games. 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.”

Gurgeh is a famous game player — he plays a lot of games and almost always wins. During one game where he has a chance to do something no one’s ever done — if he cheats — he succumbs to temptation. He’s then blackmailed by a drone, an artificial intelligence who wants Gurgeh to use his influence to convince Special Circumstances to take him back.

Special Circumstances would like Gurgeh to do something for them — they want him to travel to the Empire of Azad, a place no one has heard of, in order to play a game. The game is so important that the empire is named after it, Azad. Whoever wins the game becomes emperor.

The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks was published in 1988. It’s second in his Culture series after Consider Phlebas but it’s not a sequel — it just takes place in the same universe.

Gurgeh is a worthy character to base the book on. He has some help from a couple of machines — Flere-Imsaho, a drone, and Limiting Factor, his ship. Nicosar, the Emperor of Azad, provides some interest at the end of the book.

If you like games, this is the book for you.

It’s about the differences between cultures, and how things another culture does that you’ve never heard or thought about could be shocking.

If you liked Consider Phlebas you’ll like this one (and vice versa) — it’s another great one.

I’m going to read one more Banks novel immediately.

This entry was posted on Friday, July 12th, 2013 at 6:57 pm and is filed under Reviews of books. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply