Saturday, May 7, 2022

I hope the Grimes song isn't an indication that the world's richest man sees himself as "The Player of Games"

The Culture books are essentially about an intergalactic CIA/MI6 where humanoid agents (genetically modified to be strong and tough, and armed with super science weaponry and vehicles) carry out the directions of hyper-intelligent well-meaning AIs to commit atrocities for the overall good of the universe (sometimes achieving their aims). The books are consistently pleasant science fiction page turners, and here are the two I most recently finished:

The Hydrogen Sonata: The plot is very weak (the characters repeatedly ask one another why they're bothering to do what they're doing), there are some body modifications described in repulsive detail, and the ending is not satisfying. But! The heroes and villains are compelling, and the action is thrilling. One noble AI's disastrous failure is particularly memorable. 

The Player of Games: A remarkably naive narcissist is so good at board games that his play might alter the direction of a world-conquering empire. His social interactions include instantly forgetting someone's name, failing to open a gift sent by his best friend, and deciding to not bother responding to heartfelt messages. When not playing a board game, he's completely unable to understand the motivations of others, and is basically fooled by a different character every few pages. The lyrics and images of Grimes' new song don't seem to refer to events in the book. But well...

Also, a spoiler:


(And the other main character in the book is much worse--chillingly exultant when it gets to let loose.)