The Player of Games

Iain Banks

As with all sentient Culture constructs, its precise character had not been fully mapped out before its construction, but allowed to develop as the drone's mind was put together. The Culture regarded this unpredictable factor in its production of conscious machines as the price to be paid for individuality, but the result was that not every drone so brought into being was entirely suitable for the tasks it had initially been designed for.

The true gambler needs the excitement of potential loss, even ruin, to feel wholly alive.

The better I do the worse things get because the more I have to lose.

This is not a heroic age. The individual is obsolete. That's why life is so comfortable for us all. We don't matter, so we're safe. No one person can have any real effect any more.

A society's games reveal so much about its ethos, its philosophy, its very soul.

Physics at its most fundamental, the very fabric of our universe, results directly from the interaction of certain fairly simple rules, and chance; the same description may be applied to the best, most elegant and both intellectually and aesthetically satisfying games.

The very first-rank games acknowledge the element of chance, even if they rightly restrict raw luck.

By being unknowable, by resulting from events which, at the sub-atomic level, cannot be fully predicted, the future remains malleable, and retains the possibility of change, the hope of coming to prevail; victory, to use an unfashionable word. In this, the future is a game; time is one of the rules.

One thing that empires are not about is the efficient use of resources and the spread of happiness; both are typically accomplished despite the economic short-circuiting—corruption and favoritism, mostly—endemic to the system.

Wisdom is patience.

I'm not interested in controlling others, or in making the strategic decisions; that sort of power doesn't interest me. The only destiny I want to control is my own.

Common misconception that; that fun is relaxing. If it is, you're not doing it right.

Every society imposes some of its values on those raised within it, but some societies try to maximize that effect, and some try to minimize it.

A guilty system recognizes no innocents.

One of the advantages of having laws is the pleasure one may take in breaking them.

Rules and laws exist only because we take pleasure in doing what they forbid, but as long as most of the people obey such proscriptions most of the time, they have done their job; blind obedience would imply we are no more than robots!

He was at once delighted and outraged that the Culture regarded homosexuality, incest, sex-changing, hermaphrodicy and sexual characteristic alteration as just something people did, like going on a cruise or changing their hair-style.

The result is what matters, not how it's achieved (unless, of course, the process of achieving is itself a series of results).

It goes on until it ends.

Empires have fallen to barbarians before, and no doubt will again.

Life is not fair. Not intrinsically. It's something we can try to make it, though, a goal we can aim for. You can choose to do so, or not. We have. I'm sorry you find us so repulsive for that.