I finished The Player Of Games today, after reading it non-stop (besides working and sleeping, of course) over a day and a half. I will definitely be getting more Ian M. Banks books in the next couple of weeks, as soon as I figure out the ordering of the Culture series.
His writing has an immersive quality that is hard to pin down, but which on this book I attribute to a well-timed balance between the characters' motivations and the backdrop they move against.
Sci-Fi can be pedantic or too fuzzy at times, but I haven't seen that yet in any of Banks's books - science is hinted at, there are (obviously) aliens and spaceships involved, but it doesn't really matter - the characters and the emphasis on the game would hold the book together even if it wasn't Sci-Fi.
In the afternoon, we went to see Cars, and I rate it as utterly, utterly brilliant. Besides pushing animation tech even further (the particle simulations for dust are amazingly believable), the sheer amount of detail is astounding.
The car stickers, the audience doing the "wave" with their headlights, the landscapes, the little car-shaped insects (loved the Beetle), even the cameos at the end make me want to grab the DVD as soon as it's out and watch it again and again.
Sure, the plot has a few awkward pauses, but the characters are enthralling - you quickly forget that you're watching talking cars, so good are the visual clues that anthropomorphize them.