I’ve decided to take on Iain M. Banks classic series The culture. The series which follows the post-state society called the Culture, where minds and machines live in harmony, and sickness is defeted. In The Player of Games we are introduced to this world through the eyes of a player of Games named Gurgeh.
The world Banks has created is at first glance very different from our own. Humans have genetically enhanced themselves to rid them of sickness and death. They’ve created drug-glandes with which they can change their brain chemistry after their needs. A person may change body if they are badly injured and they may change sex multiple times durring their lifetime.
The author has made the well weighted decision to let us meet this very different world through Gurgeh, a simple and classic man, who has never changed sex, is heterosexual and doesn’t like to travel. He has a small villa close to a fjord. He is a character we can recognise and sympathise with, in a world so different from ours.
The main character is as far as this chapter goes a friendly face, that might remind you of a relative in their forties, questioning their place in the world. We meet his insecurities and will to find new challenges. As he’s at an age of 300 he has mastered most classic games there is to master. Of course there are people better than him, but few who are so good at so many games as he is. But we feel with him, the will to face novelty which brings the feeling of stamping in one place.
Even though he is of quite an old age, he has never had any longer relationships and we get to observe Gurgeh trying to searching for love in a younger woman, who doesn’t reciprocate his love. There is an aura of loneliness around him, which brings you into the book in a very immersive way.
I believe that Banks did a great job of building up the first chapter of the book. His strange world may seem to much or to different to our own to understand, but by giving us Gurgeh, a simple man with relatable problems, we find ourself captured by the beauty of the Culture. We are eased in to this story, and I can’t wait to see how the next chapter pans out.