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The Player of Games av Iain Banks
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The Player of Games (urspr publ 1988; utgåvan 1997)

av Iain Banks (Författare)

Serier: The Culture (2)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygDiskussioner / Omnämnanden
5,5591571,398 (4.14)1 / 302
In the human-machine symbiotic society called The Culture, there have been many great game players. One, Gurgeh, is a master of every board, computer, and strategy. He travels to the Empire of Azad to try its game, one so complex and like life itself, that the winner becomes emperer. With this game, he takes on the challenge of his life, and possibly his death.… (mer)
Medlem:aabtzu
Titel:The Player of Games
Författare:Iain Banks (Författare)
Info:HarperCollins (1997), Edition: First PB Edition, First Printing, 293 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
Betyg:
Taggar:to-read, goodreads_import_may2020

Verkdetaljer

The Player of Games av Iain M. Banks (1988)

  1. 30
    Högt spel i rymden av Charles V. de Vet (DisassemblyOfReason)
    DisassemblyOfReason: Another alien civilization wherein one's status as a game player has a direct relationship to one's status in society, and to which a human game player has been deliberately sent to play the game.
  2. 10
    Ninefox Gambit av Yoon Ha Lee (kaydern)
    kaydern: High sci-fi with excellently complex worldbuilding.
  3. 00
    The Gameshouse av Claire North (Cecrow)
  4. 00
    Shevek : en berättelse om två världar av Ursula K. Le Guin (themulhern)
    themulhern: Two opposing cultures collide in both works. Urras = The Empire but their opposites (Annares and The Culture) have very little in common. Annares is determined by scarcity, the Culture by its lack.
  5. 13
    Enders spel av Orson Scott Card (jeroenvandorp)
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engelska (148)  franska (5)  italienska (2)  finska (1)  spanska (1)  Alla språk (157)
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I've read a number of Culture novels before, but not in any particular order. I therefore found it strange to read this early one now, because here Banks apparently still felt a need to explain much about the Culture to the reader; some of that feels clumsy, especially at the beginning of the book, with characters saying things to another like "Well, of course you remember that ". In addition, the book was hard for me to get into, with an initially unlikeable main character, very little seeming to happen, and then, at the start of the second section (of three), the jarring appearance of a chatty narrator addressing the reader but being coy about their identity.

But that's OK, because this is when the book starts to get good. And it gets very good indeed. Now the main character, Jernau Gurgeh, is off to the foreign, and quite alien to him, Azad empire, and while we see it through his eyes, it's recognizably similar to our own culture. And it's easy to see how inferior it looks to Gurgeh, and why, so there's some interesting social commentary here.

That's not the plot, though, which revolves around Gurgeh going (well, being sent) to Azad to play their great, and furiously complex, game, also called Azad, in a once-every-twelve-years tournament that determines every player's subsequent role in the empire, including who will be the next emperor. And this is wonderful stuff! Banks gives that bizarre premise a plausible justification, and we watch how Gurgeh's approach to the game, its other players, their whole society, and everything and everyone else he knows, all changes the deeper into play he gets. He knows he can't win the tournament, because he's only studied the game for the two years it took him to reach it, while most players have studied it their entire lives, but his struggles to put up a good fight are quite thrilling.

Another wonderful thing here is that Banks doesn't even try to explain the game to the reader in anything other than broad strokes, hinting at the varying nature of the game's phases, and describing rules or scoring methods only to introduce their outcomes when significant. As a result, it felt like watching some sporting event where I didn't know the rules, but while sitting next to an intelligent fan who know how to explain just enough for me to enjoy the game and get excited by it.

In the end this was a very entertaining read. I read [b:Matter|886066|Matter (Culture, #8)|Iain M. Banks|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1327954631s/886066.jpg|871329] last year, and I think I enjoyed this just a little bit less, but only because of the problems I had with the beginning. I'm very glad I read it. ( )
  JohnNienart | Jul 11, 2021 |
Admired, but did not love.

All of Iain. M. Banks' signature moves are here, in all their glory, in only his second outing into his twisted/admirable/utopian/dystopian post-scarcity and pure libertarian society, the Culture. So there's the dark humour, the snarky AIs, the rich world-building, the dizzying amorality of a society in which, almost literally, anything goes, and an unsparing understanding of the hidden costs of such "freedom."

But ... for me, this read wasn't pure pleasure, and I kept being dragged away from my immersion in the affairs of the Culture, and particularly in the trials and tribulations of the Player of Games, Jernau Morat Gurgeh, as I found myself constantly questioning the bigger picture, and asking, what is it for? Oh, yes, of course: to demonstrate that a "virtuous" post-scarcity, pure libertarian, utopian/dystopian, anything-goes society can be just as bad, just as devious and exploitative as an old-school fascist empire. Just as, in its own way, ... imperialistic, crushing the lives and choices of enemies and friends under its wheels.

But ... the real problem for me, from page 1, is Jernau Morat Gurgeh. A "poor little rich boy" (although, in the Culture, there's nothing to stop him being a "poor little rich girl" for while, if he fancies), at the beginning of the novel he is bored with his perfect life ... and completely and unutterably boring. That's fine, that's ok (if a little dragged out: do we really need to see the full "horror" of his ennui at his beautiful home, and loving friends, and lively social life, and professional success, at such length? We get it, he's bored with it all ...) It's a perfectly fine narrative strategy to present us with our protagonist when he/she is at rock bottom, and see where he/she goes from there.

But the problem is that Jernau Morat Gurgeh goes nowhere: he is bored by his life in the Culture, he is pretty bored and uninspired by the adventure that the Culture sends him on, to the Empire of Azad. He is mildly piqued by the game of Azad, the wildly complicated, "life as a game" metaphor that powers and organizes the Empire. Nothing real, outside the Game seems to move him, nothing seems to shake him out of his narrow-minded focus on playing the game, and the artificial consequences of the game for him.

And it doesn't help that he's pretty stupid, on the macro-level, with all his supposed skill and single-mindedness at his beloved game playing. Trying for no spoilers here, but let's just say who plays the player? But some of the "big reveals" were pretty obvious, and it seemed to me that the only one who didn't understand what the Culture was really up to was Jernau Morat Gurgeh, and the entire population of Azad.

Right, I've gotten that out of my system. The fact is, however, that I "enjoyed" being made a little cross by this, and I'm very glad I read it. It's another interesting insight in the workings of the Culture, and it just adds to my respect for Banks, for inventing a society that is theoretically admirable in so many ways, but not pure good. I adore his AI Minds, and I want to have one as a friend, please. I seem to recall that Banks revisited the themes here -- the slightly self-obsessed, blinkered citizen of the Culture who finds himself exploited and endangered by the society that he assumes is looking out for him -- in a later novel in the Culture series, The Algebraist, and worked some of the bugs out. I'll have to go back and reread that, to see if I'm right! ( )
  maura853 | Jul 11, 2021 |
The game of azad sounded really cool and intricate, I’d love to see an actual game played. I enjoyed the game theory stuff. ( )
1 rösta codykh | Jun 28, 2021 |
The first Culture novel was an impressive introduction, but this second book (700 years later) is when the fun really begins. Gurgeh is a master of strategy games who is becoming bored with it all, until he is recruited for an unusual diplomatic mission. As a science fiction and strategy games fan I was "all in" with this premise, and Banks does not waste a single page indulging in it. This really delivers. He is masterful at squeezing the sponge for all it's worth, and I laughed often enough over dialogue or situations that I'm going to tag this as humour. Best of all it's entertainment with brains, loaded with cultural, political and social commentary. ( )
1 rösta Cecrow | Jun 19, 2021 |
A slow start; bored, shallow MC; Azadian cardboard character reflections of the scheming royal trope; vague game action; low tension scenes. I'm not a fan of aristocratic political machinations and much more interested in the science, so I was disappointed. ( )
  quantum.alex | May 31, 2021 |
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» Lägg till fler författare (18 möjliga)

Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Banks, Iain M.primär författarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Benini, MilenaÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Kenny, PeterBerättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Keynäs, VilleÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Salwowski, MarkOmslagmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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For James S Brown, who once said 'Azshashoshz.'
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This is the story of a man who went far away for a long time, just to play a game.
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Does Gurgeh really understand what he's done, and what might happen to him? Has it even begun to occur to him that he might have been tricked? And does he really know what he's let himself in for?

Of Course not!

That's part of the fun!
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Wikipedia på engelska (1)

In the human-machine symbiotic society called The Culture, there have been many great game players. One, Gurgeh, is a master of every board, computer, and strategy. He travels to the Empire of Azad to try its game, one so complex and like life itself, that the winner becomes emperer. With this game, he takes on the challenge of his life, and possibly his death.

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