The Player of Games, by Iain M. Banks

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Alien Overlord
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The Player of Games, by Iain M. Banks

Post by Omphalos »

You call it enjoyment to lose your house, your titles, your estates; your children maybe; to be expected to walk out onto the balcony with a gun and blow your brains out? That's enjoyment? We're well free of that. You want something you can't have, Gurgeh. You enjoy your life in the Culture, but it can't provide you with sufficient threats; the true gambler needs the excitement of potential loss, even ruin, to feel wholly alive.
I generally consider myself to be very well-read in the SF genre. In fact, in the last few years I've come to realize that there is little of the old stuff that I want or need to read, so I've begun turning my attention to the newer SF novels and stories. Up until the late 1990's I had a subscription to the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and it was there and in the occasional issue of Asimov's that I found many of the modern authors that I enjoy. It was years ago when Gordon van Gelder started, in my opinion, to load the magazine with fantasy that I canceled my subscription. Suffice it to say, I am not a great fantasy fan. But before I did so I could not help but take notice of the "Scottish SF Enlightenment," as van Gelder described it. A number of Scottish authors graced the pages of MoF&SF during that time, such as Stross, MacDonald and others. I don't recall ever seeing Banks in the pages of the magazine, but he was almost always mentioned in the introductory blurbs that van Gelder placed before the stories of other Scottish authors. Based on his recommendations I tried two of Banks' novels; Feersum Endjinn and The Algibraist. I could not stand either one, and put both down before finishing. So it was with some trepidation that I approached Banks' well known Culture novels. The internet fluffer-mill certainly has gone into high gear over these books; I have yet to see a bad review of any of them. But as you all know already, the internet-fool rumor mill is nothing to base an opinion on. A few weeks ago while on vacation I read Banks' 1988 Culture novel called The Player of Games. I was very impressed, especially by the setting, but also by the story and characterization...Please click here, or on the book cover above, to be taken to the complete review.
Something is about to happen, Hal. Something wonderful!

-James C. Harwood, Science Fiction Writer, Straight (March 5, 1956 - May 25, 2010)

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