June 09, 2004
Feersum Endjinn by Iain M. Banks
A cosmic dust cloud called the Encroachment threatens all life on Earth while two factions fight to control what might be the only escape route. At the same time the data corpus and virtual reality environment called the Crypt is threatened by an unknown force called the chaos (the so-called Fearsome Engine of the title).
Banks' bizarre vision of virtual reality, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and biological engineering takes a bit getting used to. To compound the difficulty, one of the main characters who talks in the first person entirely uses a pseudo-phonetic script throughout the book. An example is given below.
They reckin u can c the c from thi veri hiest hites of thi habitabil castle, but tho I seen this screend I nevir seen it wif ma own Is.
However, once you meet Banks half-way, the ride through this novel is an well worth it. Highly recommended if you are already an Iain M. Banks fan. If this is your first Iain M. Banks novel, then drop it and pick up "Use of Weapons" or "Consider Phlebas" before this one.
Banks has an interesting take on the intersection of a virtual reality environment with the base-reality. He makes the real-time in the Crypt to be much faster than the real-time in the outside world so a month inside the Crypt corresponds to a few minutes in the base reality, which is the exact reverse in other books, like for example, "Permutation City" by Greg Egan.
For the Iain M. Banks regulars, in a way similar to "Against a Dark Background", this novel this is not a Culture novel but unlike that book this is not a space adventure novel. Although it might perhaps represent an incipient Culture called the Diaspora.
%T Feersum Endjinn %A Iain M. Banks %I Bantam Books %D 1994 %G ISBN: 0553374591 %P 279 %K science-fiction
Review written: 1999/08/04Posted by anoop at June 9, 2004 04:58 PM