Player of Games


Iain M. Banks


Science fiction




The Culture

Preceded by

Consider Phlebas

Followed by


Own and read. Recommended by Eliezer Yudkowsky (see below).

First readEdit

12 05 26 The Player of Games

A couple of days after finishing, May 26th 2012.

12 05 26 The Player of Games

Progress graph, generated by Goodreads.


1989 paperback Orbit edition, 2011 reprint, bought new at Waterstones. 307 pages, 40 lines per page, 27 blank pages. ~11.0 words per line[1], implying ~123480 words in the book. About 60 characters per line[2], implying ~677320 characters in the book. Taking 350 5.5-character words per page as a standard, this book should be 352 pages.


Bought at Waterstones on May 9th, along with Dragonflight, A Game of Thrones, and The Magician's Apprentice, as I was about to finish Consider Phlebas and wanted to move right on to something, and these leapt out at me from the shelves. I was extremely uninspired by Consider Phlebas, but its appendix showed promise for the future of the series and this was highly recommended, so I'm still interested.

Started reading it after finishing Dragonflight on May 15th.

Timed myself reading 33 pages on the 20th. I lay reading for 58 minutes, seemingly concentrating the whole time, and managed to get to page 200 from 167. So we're talking 1.75 minutes per page, or 1.5 per 'standard' page. Maybe I'll be able to collect data like this in the future...

Finished it on the 25th of May, on the way to Andrew's wedding. It was enjoyable, I could see why Yudkowsky praised the Culture, but the book itself wasn't actually all that amazing. Interesting, sure, worth reading, probably (well definitely if you're not yet enlightened...).


1 (high)

Reading recordEdit

Previous book: Anne McCaffrey, Dragonflight

Next book: George R. R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

Ratings, awards, mentions and recommendationsEdit

Yudkowsky's recommendationEdit

Books of future shockEdit

"So what the heck is this 'Culture' everyone is talking about?", you ask. Well, the Culture is as close as science fiction has ever gotten to describing a real utopia. It's the society SL3 transhumanists would build, given full rein. It's More Fun In the Culture... even if you're exposed to danger while bringing the blessings of civilization to less fortunate societies as part of the do-gooder Contact section... even if you're part of Special Circumstances.

If I had to choose one poster child for the dictum that the technology creates the society, this would be it.

Links and referencesEdit

  1. 441 words on page 4 according to Notepad++.
  2. 2419 characters on page 4 according to Notepad++.

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