Read The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks

Just finished The Player of Games (Iain M Banks) – also really enjoyable.  Less cinematic than Consider Phlebas (though still nicely paced), and a bit more to chew on philosophically.  The contrast of the hierarchical Azadian empire and the egalitarian Culture is interesting.  Gurgeh, the main character, from the Culture, finds some appeal in the way things work in Azad.  Azad feels like a caricature of Western society as it is today – superficially advanced and urbane, but with some real darkness hidden away, out of sight.