When Janos lent me Player of Games, he also lent me 'A Fire Upon The Deep' by Vernor Vinge. Janos is like Amazon Recommends! Vernor's book is good, very imaginative. One problem with the book is that it hasn't been properly proofread. Really, all books should be written as wikis and then these things could be corrected.
In the book, difference regions of the galaxy have different physical effects. These effects seem only to affect 'machines' and not evolved minds. To me this is an interesting idea, but doesn't stand up as how the world could actually work. The point is that a human brain is a machine, and is subject to the same physics as any other machine.