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Description

The Culture - a human/machine symbiotic society - has thrown up many great Game Players, and one of the greatest is Gurgeh: Jernau Morat Gurgeh, The Player of Games, master of every board, computer, and strategy.

Bored with success, Gurgeh travels to the Empire of Azad, cruel and incredibly wealthy, to try their fabulous game... a game so complex, so like life itself, that the winner becomes emperor. Mocked, blackmailed, almost murdered, Gurgeh accepts the game, and with it the challenge of his life - and very possibly his death.

©1988 Iain M. Banks (P)2010 Hachette Digital

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Notations

Global

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Histoire

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Il n'y a pas encore de critique disponible pour ce titre.
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  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jacobus
  • 03/01/2011

A Worthwhile listen

I thoroughly enjoyed, Peter Kenny's rendition of Iain M. Banks' "The Player of Games." Kenny's interpretation, especially his unbelievable mimicking of different drone-like voices, brought the book to life.

"Consider Phlebas," the first Culture novel where man and machine lives in a symbiotic relationship, is in my view, only an introduction to the background aspects necessary to understand this book.

The main character, Gergey, an over comfortable citizen of the Culture, is given a chance to get his cage rattled by playing the game of his life! But like the mysterious narrator tells you in the beginning, it is a story about a battle that was not a battle and a game that turned out not to be a game.

While going with Gergey on this "rollercoaster ride," experiencing how he comes to life, experience emotions he has never felt before, something at the back of the listener's mind keeps on gnawing at you, "Who is this mysterious narrator?" The book plays its own game with you, the question is, will you win or it.

This book comes highly recommended.

3 sur 3 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jefferson
  • 22/03/2015

"All reality is a game"

In Iain M. Banks' second Culture novel, The Player of Games (1988), a playful narrator tells the story of Jernau Morat Gurgeh, a jaded 60-year old master game player living in the Culture, a vast interstellar civilization that appears to be something of a utopia. If anything can be said to run such a sprawling and creatively anarchic civilization that solved interstellar travel over 11,000 years ago, the Culture is run by its AI "Minds," spaceships that give themselves clever names like Cargo Cult, Little Rascal, So Much for Subtlety, Of Course I Still Love You, Kiss My Ass, and Just Read the Instructions, and range from modest military models to vast habitats accommodating billions of people. Thanks to the Minds and to the Culture's advanced technology and virtually unlimited access to resources, every humanoid or sentient drone living on one of its many worlds, orbitals, or ships can get or make or do or be anything he or she wants, there is no poverty, disease, money, blackmail, crime, or sexual or racial discrimination, people can change genders and safely "gland" (manufacture at will within their own bodies) any drug as often as they like, fatal accidents are rare, life-spans are long (people in their thirties seem like "toddlers" to people in their 100s), information is mostly free, and everyone is theoretically safe and fulfilled.

The problem, then, for Gurgeh is that he is probably the best games player in the Culture, which, when added to the safety and comfort of his milieu, has led to his having become disaffected by games (and life) played without stakes other than prestige. Sure he cares about that and feels that winning is better than sex or any "glanding," but really, according to Chamlis, a 4,000+ year old drone friend of the family, Gurgeh is at heart a gambler, and "a true gambler needs threat of real loss and danger to feel alive." Thus when Chamlis says that the best Minds of the Culture are in Contact, where they tend to operate like gamblers while seeking out and dealing with new civilizations, Gurgeh perks up a bit.

And the main movement of the novel depicts Gurgeh's five-year Contact mission to master a game called Azad as he travels to a far off Empire called Azad to play. The Empire is an interstellar one founded upon obsolete things like exploitation, ownership, domination, competition, military might, media control, sexual discrimination, and basically everything the Culture opposes. And Azad the game is what holds it all together. The game is a complex affair played for weeks if not months with vast, multiple boards consisting of varied types of terrain, partially sentient pieces with minds of their own, resource and other cards, and complex rules and strategies that most Azadians spend their whole lives learning. The Azadians are also wont to wager on the game mutilation and incarceration and such. For the Azadians the game replicates the complexity of reality and is thus the means by which they earn the right to hold high government offices (including emperor). Will Gurgeh be able to learn the game well enough to compete with the locals? And how will playing the game affect his nature as a member of the Culture? And if he does somehow manage to do well, how will the xenophobic Azadians accept it? For that matter, does the Culture want him to fail or succeed? Banks never quite explains the rules in detail, but does depict Gurgeh researching the game, practicing with his Contact spaceship, and eventually playing against Azadian opponents in momentum changing, surprising, and gripping ways.

As in all his Culture novels, here Banks displays a fertile imagination, reveling in creating awesome things like the Fire World, a planet on which an entire ecosystem has evolved around a vast field of fire that traverses the world once a month. As in all his Culture novels, here Banks explores interesting ideas like the ways in which games and languages reflect culture and reality and change your mindset, etc., and the relative values of societies based on competition or cooperation, and so on. Banks is quite good at doing what the best sf does: using fantastic technology and environments and civilizations etc. to explore the way we live right now. He uses the tri-gendered Azad culture, with all its sexual bias, to make us think about our own bi-gendered cultures, and he uses the Culture to make us think about our own competition-driven, success-oriented, resource-wasting, environment-polluting, poverty-exacerbating cultures.

And Banks does all that with a clean, cool prose. A millennia-old drone floats up an elevator shaft instead of using the elevator car with a "geriatric precosity." Gurgeh experiences culture-shock "as though the city, the planet, the whole Empire swirled around him in a frantic spinning tangle of nightmare shapes; a constellation of suffering and anguish, an infernal dance of agony and mutilation." The Emperor absorbs some bad news "At the top of the high tower . . . seemingly locked into the stone like a pale statue or a small tree born of an errant seed. The wind from the east freshened, tugging at the stationary figure's dark clothes and howling around the dark bright castle, tearing at the canopy of swaying cinderbuds with a noise like the sea."

Audiobook reader Peter Kenny does a fine job. I especially enjoyed his drone and ship voices, differentiated so as to evoke their different personalities: avuncular drone Chamlis, snarky American renegade drone Mawhrin-Skel, prissy library drone Flere-Imsaho, Indian warship the Limiting Factor, etc.

Fans of elegant, imaginative, philosophical, and political space-opera flavored by plenty of wit and bite should enjoy The Player of Games.

1 sur 1 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Utilisateur anonyme
  • 21/04/2018

Great book, great voice acting!

Great, but some high pitched voice acting was slightly annoying. The book tells the tale of player who gets involved in a game that suprises by its many layers. An timeless classic!

  • Global
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Utilisateur anonyme
  • 28/04/2017

excellent story with an unexpected twist

i was kept in the dark for the whole time not knowing what to expect in the end but indeed wasnt disappointed with the ending. the start of the story is a bit slow but once the motion starts rolling I began to engross into it.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ronan Joseph
  • 23/09/2016

interesting story with a gripping climax

the story does a great job of engaging the reader throughout, and the narrator really makes it come to life.

  • Global
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Mr. Bloom
  • 03/06/2016

Entertaining sci-fi story and world!

This story is set in an intriguing and fascinating world (Culture). It gives exciting perspectives on our own society!
The narrator did a great job, making all the characters vivid through convincing and diverse voices.

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  • Global
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • G. Weiser
  • 18/09/2017

Gut durchdacht

Eine interessante, gut durchkonzipierte Geschichte mit einer Wendung, die in's Grübeln bringt.
Schade, dass der Sprecher so schnattert, dass die Verständlichkeit sehr darunter leidet.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Thomas Klein
  • 13/10/2016

best culture novel

this is in my opinion the best culture novel and ranks up with consider phlebas and look to windward