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One of the two Culture books I really like, the other being Excession. Expert board-game player is sent to a foreign star system to participate in the game played by an empire which defines itself by how well you play. This is a great introduction to the Culture (which Consider Phlebas is not); throwaway lines such as "They probably think we have a home planet or something" make it clear just how far we have to go to get to that stage, without being lecture-y about it.
Books I acquired (and have reviewed) in 2018
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