Many friends have recommended the Culture series. Almost all of them have agree that The Player of Games is one of the best in the series. I really enjoyed Consider Phlebas, but The Player of Games took the series to the next level. There are parts of Gurgeh’s plight that still remain with me; his confrontation with the Game of Azad (that takes him years just to learn!), his growing respect for the society followed by sudden disillusion, as well as the rounds against the variety of people and their intrigues against him. I especially loved his final revelation of everything he stands for in contrast to the Empire. I was thrilled to get to review this at HTMLGiant as I enjoyed it so much. Check it out at the link below and I’ve included two passages from my review below:
At the center of this massive, sprawling universe is the Culture. The Culture is an egalitarian form of government based in a post-scarcity world which means that everything is free because of an abundance of resources. This allows people to pursue what they want to without worry of making enough money to survive. The way the Culture maintains everything is by putting computer AIs, or Minds, in charge of the government. As anyone who has seen Star Trek can testify, even in a post-scarcity world, people can be corrupt and pursue agendas that are counter-intuitive, motivated by greed and vanity. Since the Culture is made up of robots who find such notions puerile, they do a good job maintaining the status quo. There are also no such things as laws per se. Everyone has everything they need so many of the motives for crime have vanished.
Iain M. Banks was an incredible writer who wrote rich, diverse worlds that never shied away from the darker aspects of life, all the while weaving an entertaining yarn. He imagined a universe where utopianism went hand-in-hand with some of the harsher realities of existence and created an ideal that he put to the test with every new iteration in the Culture series. As Banks said in his final interview with the Guardian: “Well if you are going to write what a friend of a friend once called ‘Made up space shit’, then if it’s going to have any ring of truth that means sometimes some of the horrible characters get to live, and for there to be any sense of jeopardy, especially in future novels, the good people have to die. Sometimes.”