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am 30. August 2015
Nach dem enttäuschenden und zerfahrenen ersten Band (Consider Phlebas) gelingt dem Autor mit "The Player of Games" ein elegantes, amüsantes und packendes kleines Kunstwerk. Aus dem Blickwinkel eines Kulturbewohners wird ein fremdes Imperium vorgestellt, das einen sehr archaischen Wertekanon besitzt und über ein mittelalterliches Regierungs- und Justizsystem verfügt. Der Protagonist ist hin- und hergerissen zwischen Faszination und Abscheu. Im Hintergrund zieht "Contact", die einem Verteidigungsministerium entsprechende Organisation der Kultur, die Fäden, und es entwickelt sich ein spannendes Verwirrspiel. Ich habe das Buch sehr genossen. Man kann meiner Ansicht nach auch sehr gut mit diesem zweiten Band in den Kulturzyklus einsteigen und sich Teil 1 sparen.
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am 21. Mai 2000
This was the first Banks book I've read and it is really mindblowing technological SF. Not much in the way of "new" physics, but the best mix of space tech, AI, advanced civilizations and conflict that I've read in quite a while. The canvas is huge, the machines are cool and the society is totally where we wish we were. If you're into SF you may have seen some of these ideas in other books, but this is one which integrates all those things into a single volume. Definitely a "buy" recommendation - unless you have a short attention span and prefer TV. I guess I want to see more of Banks' books and it helps if my reco makes it profitable enough for him to revisit his marvellous universe.
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am 17. April 2000
"The Player of Games," while mainly taking place outside of the Culture itself is, in some ways, at the heart of the Culture novels. It's about how the Culture thinks from the inside out, and about how the Culture differs from other, more Imperial, systems.
Gurgeh is a master of all games, and when he is coerced into playing the most complex game ever devised, versus the Empire's players who've literally grown up with the game, he is unable to resist the challenge. It's an interesting premise, and the more you learn, the more you learn that it is more of life simulation than a game. All of this, unfortunately, makes the final act of the story a bit less than unpredictable, yet as in any Banks story, his intellect shines through his writing.
Iain Banks dazzles the reader with ideas throughout the story and that's more than enough to make me recommend this novel.
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am 6. September 2009
"The Player of Games" spielt in Iain M. Bank Culture-Zyklus. Der Protagonist Gurgeh ist ein Spieler. Er ist nicht spezialisiert auf ein bestimmtes Spiel, sondern ist das Äquivalent eines Universalgenies für Spiele. Als solches verfasst er auch wissenschaftliche Artikel über diese und ist in der gesamten Kultur bekannt und berühmt.
Gurgeh scheint es an Herausforderungen zu fehlen und so kontaktiert er "Contact" bzw. "Special Circumstances", den Geheimdienst der Kultur. Von diesem bekommt er die Teilnahme an einem Spiel vorgeschlagen, welches von einem ganzen Imperium gespielt wird und das der Kultur noch unbekannt ist. Ein Spiel von einer Komplexität, daß er seine ganze jahrelange Reise in dieses Imperium benötigen wird, um seine Regeln auch nur annäherend zu begreifen. Ein Spiel, mit dem dieses Imperium den sozialen Status seiner Mitglieder festlegt.
Was Gurgeh nicht ahnt, ist daß er selbst nur ein Teil eines größeren Spieles ist. Ein Spiel, daß ihn für immer verändern wird und bei dem der Preis das Imperium ist. Ein Spiel um Leben und Tod und ein Spiel, bei dem nicht alle nach den Regeln spielen.

Banks gelingt es in diesem Buch ein glaubwürdiges Szenario einer Gesellschaft zu zeigen, die völlig durch ein Spiel definiert wird. Gurgeh erlaubt es uns Lesern das Spiel und das Imperium durch seine Augen zu er- und durchleben. Das buch an sich ist mit 300 Seiten nicht besonders dick, aber es hält einen angenehmen Spannungsbogen von Anfang bis Ende und fasziniert mit einer detaillierten Beschreibung der Gesellschaft des Imperiums. Insgesamt sehr empfehlenswert. 4,5/5 Sternen.
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am 23. August 1999
I waited a few weeks to write this review because I wanted the book to sink in a little. Rightfully so, for as time went on I realized that I did enjoy it, and found it to be quite profound. This book is my first Culture novel and as such, many of the fundamental Culture principles were lost on me. However...I got it. I found the Culture to be every bit as ruthless and vicious as the empire it sought to destroy. In some ways, far worse, for the Culture's hidden agenda is far more perilous for Jernau Gurgeh than the Empire of Azad's far more notorious and blatant overtures. Truly a scary tale of what a political machine gone amuck can do. I don't consider a mastery of gaming to be a particularly important or valuable skill to any society on a grand scale. A doctor, engineer or poet might prove more important representatives. Interesting how one man's seemingly small contribution, could figure so pivotal to the downfall of an empire. Yet in his own world, he is ultimately a meaningless and expendable creature; far too cognitive of the Culture's real motivations to be left alive. Powerful stuff. Once it hits you, you'll be in awe of Banks. I didn't realize how much he said in such a little book.
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am 14. Oktober 1998
First of all, this IS a very good novel. Funny, devastating, clever and satirical - I'd happily recommend it to anyone.
However, I'm of the opinion that Banks is something of a genius in when in top form. He's not in top form here. The satire is obvious and, although accurate and amusing, has something of a sledgehammer-like quality. It is funny but so are all of his novels bar A Song of Stone, and this is not in the same league as Excession for humour. It's also shocking at times but, again, so are most of his novels. The Player of Games can't however match the characters and plots of his best works.
There are many better books by Banks: 'non-genre' (who first came up with this ridiculous description?!) novels in the shape of The Bridge, Complicity and The Wasp Factory, and sci-fi such as Consider Phlebas, Excession (frustratingly under-rated) and the incomparable Use of Weapons. Read these first!
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am 25. August 2005
I fail to understand others' enthusiasm for this shoddy, poorly edited work. In it, Iain Banks dashes expectations culled in works such as The Wasp Factory, in which interesting characters and mysterious hints and hidden atrocities of the human soul are pointedly uncovered. The Player of Games, however, is an atrocity in itself, completely unsurprising and written in a sad, tired prose unrecognizable as coming from Banks' pen. The story is based on a faceless character who trains and then subsequently plays the "ultimate" game ever imagined for very high stakes (the reign over a culture). Banks utter lack of imagination as to the nature of this ultimate game is simply astounding, almost unfathomable: Since the story takes part in the far future, in a (completely unplausible, certainly underdescribed) world in which mankind has evolved into a state of Marxian paradise, one would expect this "game" to be something novel. Instead, it is just a very large board game, its surface encompassing the size of a soccer field. Lack of imagination, lack of character depth, lack of plot best describe this feeble book. It is the only book I have ever thrown away after reading, and justly so.
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am 28. August 1998
'Player of Games' was the first Iain 'M' Banks novel I have read, and I have to admit I loved it! Having read all his previous fiction novels, I was a little uncertain as to how much I would enjoy a SF Novel. Thankfully, all my fears were unfounded only a few pages in to the book. The main character Gurgeh is intelligent, complex and sexy. SF is a genre I never thought I would click with, but the freedom of living through the Culture, and the Empire of Azad was a liberating experience. I loved the dark webs of intrigue which connected many of the central characters, and the reality of this 'universe' was all too addictive. I have since read 'Consider Phlebus', and I enjoyed it just as much if not more. I can honestly say, Iain Banks, with or without the M, is one of the best writers of all time!
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am 14. Februar 2011
The Player of Games, in retrospective one of the more untypical stories from Iain Banks, but the first one for me to read and the one that made me buy the next 2 books at once. Full of wit it easily does without cheap episodes of sex and violence to keep the reader exited. Interesting Characters interesting societies and interesting games, of course. But after all, it's about playing a game and to some extent like "The Old Man and The Sea" Banks shows his mastery by captivating the reader with something so boring as a game.

Iain (M.) Banks is definitively one of the best Sci-Fi authors today. And what may be important as well: he is both imaginative and productive. The genre can be lucky to have a good classical author find his interest in Sci-Fi. Sci-Fi usually isn't a very demanding genre, so it sees many mediocre entrepreneurs. Banks has a rich imagination, rich vocabulary and is just a master writer. He does action scenes as well as giving a whole impression of societies, he can be funny at times as well as giving you very sobering insights, he can overwhelm you with richest unseen scenes and make hopelessness palpable just by describing a bleak scene. There are few things that are constant about his works - besides their quality. Namely his strange interest in shit, what seems to pop up now and then. And then there's is aversion against religion. The more religious someone is, the more amoral is character will act.
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am 15. August 1997
This is the second of Banks' books set within the Culture. We were introduced to this hedonistic but distinctly moral society in his first venture into science fiction, `Consider Phlebus'. The Culture is an extremely advanced technological society where within limits, everyone is able to have the lifestyle of their chosing. With a productive capacity far above needs of even the most avaricious citizen, this presented as a sort of utopia for the humans and artificial intelligences who live within it.

The main character Jurneau Morat Gurgeh is a man ill at ease with his surroundings. As a rare example of a famous individual in a civilization which eschews fame. Having reached the pinnacle of achievement in his chosen field, game playing, he is bored and looking for new challanges. After being contacted by the shadowy military arm of the culture, special circumstances he is introduced to the game of Azad.

Azad is the lynch pin which holds together the empire of the same name. Immediately entanced by the game, Gurgeh agrees to undertake the lengthy trip to take part in the grand series of games within the empire.

Most of the rest of the book is taken up with Gurgeh's stay within the empire. Azad is a distortion of all the worst features of our own western civilization. For instance Gurgeh upon arrival with the empire is submerged in a media storm complete with paparazzi. An intriguing difference is that the population of the empire is made of three sexes. Male, Female and Apex.

Banks' uses this division well to highlight the roles forced upon those in capitalist society by the ruling class (here represented by the apexes). Females are forced into marriage in order to survive whilst males are in turn cannon fodder for the armed forces. This is of course a gross generalisation, but it does appear to reflect Banks' own preference for a planned economy.

All through this well written and entertaining book you are left wondering who is playing with whom. Gurgeh may be the player of games, but has he in turn been played upon by the Culture to undertake this journey. Or if the truth be known is the empire playing its own subtle game with the Culture.

I found this tale extremely satisfying and I consider it probably the finest piece of Culture lore that Banks has yet produced. The empire is particularly well drawn. I whole heartedly recommend it to any one who is interested in Banks
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