Player of Games, Culture Volume II
Written By: Iain M. Banks
Reviewed by: Brad Williamson
Genre: Soft Science-Fiction / Space Opera
In this volume, Banks makes his premise abundantly clear: each Culture novel will expand the universe while remaining independent of the previous titles. This, while not an original tactic by any means, is something Banks pulls off possibly better than anyone else. Player of Games is probably the most focused and easily read of all the Culture novels, and also one of the shortest, but so too is it one of the very best, most enjoyable, and absolutely rewarding.
Expanding his ideas with various intra-species interactions, genetic upgrades, drug use enabled through specific, controllable glands, unique takes on game theory that would impress John Nash himself, and yet again raising the stakes as the novel progresses, Banks provides a follow-up to Consider Phlebas that all at once affirms the quality of the Culture series, satiates those who enjoyed the first and want more, and builds up potential for future novels in the series.
Thoroughly enjoyable, rewarding, focused, and thought provoking, this offering will suit every science-fiction fan, along with any other lucky individual who reads it.