I found out that Janos was a fan of Iain Banks. I asked him, 'what's your favourite Banks sci-fi book then?', he said it was Player of Games. I thought I'd read them all, but when he outlined the plot I realized I hadn't. Excellent!
PoG is an excellent book, second only to Use of Weapons in the Banks oevre. There's no tedious navel gazing, no wasted words, the tension is maintained throughout. Brilliant insights into the relationship between humans and other sentient machines. I think the best writing is where the author has a lot to say, and a relatively short space to write it. That isn't to say I'm blindly in favour of short books. As Einstein said about scientific theories, they should be as simple as possible, but no simpler. In fact this maxim also applies to software.
PoG was written in 1989, and as I was reading it I was listening to a Pixies best-of CD, which I remember from the early 90s. I was overcome by a wave of nostalgia for the days of listening to the Pixies at my friend's house while we played snooker (he always won).
Anyway, I think Banks has played Risk and games like it. They're a feature of his writing, and he writes well about them. Does anyone want a game of Risk?