There's more than a whiff of space opera around Iain M. Bank's The Player of Games -- an alien empire determines their rulers by means of a complex game and so The Culture sends one of their greatest game players to investigate. But it's also an intensely personal journey of one man and a biting indictment of all empires. And it's an adventure. And it was about fifty times better than I was expecting. FuzzyCo grade: A.