I own all these Iain M. Banks’ Science Fiction books. Some are Culture novels, and some are stand-alone works that are every bit as complex, rich, and satisfying as the former. I earn a small commission from sales of these books.
The Player of Games
The Culture — a human/machine symbiotic society — has produced many great Game Players, and one of the greatest is Gurgeh, Jernau Morat Gurgeh. The Player of Games. Master of every board, computer and strategy.
Bored with success, Gurgeh travels to the Empire of Azad, cruel and incredibly wealthy, to try their fabulous game… a game so complex, so like life itself, that the winner becomes emperor. Mocked, blackmailed, almost murdered, Gurgeh accepts the game, and with it the challenge of his life — and very possibly his death. Buy on Amazon (affiliate link).
In my opinion, The Player of Games is a perfect novel. I read it at least once every year, and it always satisfies.
This was Iain M. Banks’ first Culture novel. Buy it now (affiliate link).
The war raged across the galaxy. Billions had died, billions more were doomed. Moons, planets, the very stars themselves, faced destruction, cold-blooded, brutal, and worse, random. The Idirans fought for their Faith; the Culture for its moral right to exist. Principles were at stake. There could be no surrender.
Within the cosmic conflict, an individual crusade. Deep within a fabled labyrinth on a barren world, a Planet of the Dead proscribed to mortals, lay a fugitive Mind. Both the Culture and the Idirans sought it. It was the fate of Horza, the Changer, and his motley crew of unpredictable mercenaries, human and machine, actually to find it, and with it their own destruction.
Use of Weapons
The man known as Cheradenine Zakalwe was one of Special Circumstances’ foremost agents, changing the destiny of planets to suit the Culture through intrigue, dirty tricks and military action.
The woman known as Diziet Sma had plucked him from obscurity and pushed him towards his present eminence, but despite all their dealings she did not know him as well as she thought.
The drone known as Skaffen-Amtiskaw knew both of these people. It had once saved the woman’s life by massacring her attackers in a particularly bloody manner. It believed the man to be a lost cause. But not even this machine could see the horrors in his past.
Use of Weapons is Iain M. Banks’ space opera at its best. Zakalwe moves from planet to planet, and decade to decade, prosecuting countless wars to horrifying and pointless ends. Buy on Amazon (affiliate link).
Against A Dark Background
Sharrow was once the leader of a personality-attuned combat team in one of the sporadic little commercial wars in the civilization based around the planet Golter. Now she is hunted by the Huhsz, a religious cult which believes that she is the last obstacle before the faith’s apotheosis, and her only hope of escape is to find the last of the apocalyptically powerful Lazy Guns before the Huhsz find her.
Her journey through the exotic Golterian system is a destructive and savage odyssey into her past, and that of her family and of the system itself.
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link).
Count Alandre Sessine VII has already died seven times. He has only one life left – one last chance to catch his killer. His only clues point to a conspiracy beyond his own murder. For a catastrophe is fast approaching the earth from which there is no escape – until a loophole through apocalypse is discovered. And a chosen few will do anything to keep it a secret.
Someone has betrayed Sessine, killed him before he could uncover the truth. Now he has three days before his funeral to live the way men used to live: restricted to one life where one mistake could be his last.
Suddenly he finds himself an outlaw, a fugitive, a desperado.
And his only hope of survival is finding others like himself.
Others who hold a piece of the puzzle to an enigmatic weapon of salvation and chaos… Purchase today (affiliate link).