Friday Faceoff – Without gambling, I would not exist…


This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This week the theme is casinos and gambling, so I’ve chosen Player of Games – Book 2 of the Culture series by Iain M. Banks.


This is the offering produced by HarperPrism in February 1997. I really like the warm tones and the chequerboard effect with the detailed games. Unfortunately it is ruined by that block of black plonked right in the middle of the artwork that seems to have been the fashion for books of the time and now looks ugly and amateurish.


At least this doesn’t have the block of blugh, but that is all that can be said for this rather dreary generic offering produced in August 2008 by Orbit. The cold colours and blurry male figure does nothing to depict the vibrant Culture world crafted by Banks – and frankly this wonderful, genre-changing series deserves better.


This cover design produced in 1989 by Orbit is my favourite – perhaps influenced by the fact it is the cover of the book we owned and loved. I love the splashes of vivid pink, the clean font and the cool dude featured in amongst those intriguing playing pieces. This quirky cover manages to accurately reflect the tone of this wonderful book.


This offering is another intriguing effort, produced in August 1988 by Macmillan. I like the arresting image of the two players completely engrossed in the game – my gripe with it is the styling of the figures. This book is set in the far future and while post-humanity riffs with the past, using clothing and design we all equate with the distant past doesn’t reflect the flavour of this coolly futuristic story.


This Hungarian offering is another lacklustre affair, produced by Agave Könyvek in 2003, with a generic background and some blurred chess pieces in the foreground. All in all, I think poor Iain Banks was ill served by most of these efforts…

Which one is your favourite?

25 responses »

  1. I do love seeing the various cover designs for a particular book in your Friday posts. This week I love the 1989 Orbit version of The Player of Games the best – this was the copy that I had years ago when I read it and I still think it’s the best cover.

    • Oh, there’s nothing inherently wrong with it as a cover – but what annoys me is having it representing such an amazing book… Not that I’ve been ranting about it. At all:).

  2. I totally agree with you! I love the mix of a human and a game together, plus the splash of color at the forefront. All the other covers are lacking with that kind of contrast, and the two people playing chess look like something from a high school art class. What first drew you to this story?

    • I read it longer ago than I care to think – and each week on this meme we are given topics. This was a book that jumped into my mind when it came up. I love the early Culture novels by Banks – they really do stretch the genre – and used to eagerly wait for each one to come out.

  3. This is a hard one. Normally on these a cover really jumps out at me but not here. I would go with your pick because of the pink (and still read the book because I love Banks).

    • Yes. Overall they are a mediocre bunch, aren’t they? Which is a shame as this book is a particular favourite of mine. I prefer Banks’ earlier work to some of the later books.

      • I think that’s mainly what I’ve read. I remember a period where I bought each book as soon as it was released then I trickled off.

      • Yes… he seemed to get very caught up with telling about the world, instead of letting it unspool in amongst the action. But at his best, he is a unique talent – and this is him at his best, in my opinion.

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