Iain Banks is on my top three. Whether he writes space opera or "Literature", his imagination is unparalleled, and the best of his books are aesthetic creations of note..
The Player of Games
Is one of Banks' books taking place in the Culture, a semi-galactic empire. The Culture is very advanced, very powerful, and very benevolent, which is unusual in (SF) literature. It is indeed, according to Banks, the driving force in the whole series, and I love him for it.
To put some suspence in the books, most of the stories take place on the edge of the Culture, literally and ethically, in the Special Circumstances division of Contact, the part of the Culture that deal with the new civilizations they meet as they expand into the Galaxy.
Here murder and intrigue can be necesary for the greater good.
The Player of Games is not the most action-filled of the Culture books (that would be Consider Phlebas), but it is my favorite.
Is a book that I and Banks agree on is one of his best.
I read in during a Christmas hollyday, and it became one of my best hollydays.
I rushed out to get my next Iain Banks book so I wouldn't have to go cold turkey when I finished The Bridge.
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