Feersum Endjinn, Iain M. Banks (Orbit)

Feersum Endjinn

Image via Wikipedia

Grade: Α — Great book, must read regardless of what Genres you enjoy.  Makes you think of things beyond the scope of the book

In brief:

I wholly enjoyed this book, but will note it may not be for everyone. This is not a Culture book, but is a wonderfully imagined and brilliantly written book is occasionally difficult to read. This is not only due to the complex multi-perspective post-post-modern form that the book takes, but also because part of the book is written in a quasi-phonetic form that approximates a working class British accent (e.g. the title of the book might have been spelled Fearsome Engine). As one reads on, however, what began as a headache becomes one of the best elements of the book.  I highly recommend Feersum Endjinn to anyone who is looking for a intellectual teaser wrapped inside a good solid adventure. 


Earth in the very far, ultra-tech future.

 In Depth:

Count Sessine is about to die for the very last time…

This great teaser sentence appears on the back of the book, and cunning as it is, it dims in comparison to the book itself. 

To give fair warning, however, Feersum Endjinn is not an easy read. In fact, I could well have given this an Omega rating as easily as an Alpha rating.  It takes place in a wildly imaginative future, has a complex plot, and for about a quarter of the text, uses what I can only explain as an “interesting” form of spelling  Take, for example, the first time we encounter one of the principle characters, Bascule:

Woak up. Got dresd. Had brekfast. Spoke wif Egrates the ant who sed itz juss been wurk wurk wurk 4 u lately master Bascule, Y dont u 1/2 a holiday?

Which reads as:

Woke up. Got dressed. Had breakfast. Spoke with Ergates the ant who said its just been work, work, work for you lately master Bascule.  Why don’t you have a holiday?

This curious form of phonetically spelling a regional British accent is used throughout the book and plays an important part in the plot.  Even so, it begins as being distracting and takes some time to get used to. Indeed, I can only imagine it may indeed prove incomprehensible to many American readers, who are not necessarily familiar with the foibles of British working class accents. If you can master it, however, it quickly becomes an absolutely gripping element within the book, and I for one, became eager to get to the Bascule parts of the story. 

There is, however, a great action tale beyond those literary experimentation, and it is, in short, a Ripping Yarn set in a Ultra-tech future where life resembles a wild video game.  There are solid characters set in exciting situations within a wildly imaginative future.  I loved the book and recommend it highly.

About Thomas Evans

I'm a writer of mysteries, espionage, and speculative fiction. In my previous incarnation I was an archaeologist specializing in gender and identity in Iron and Bronze Age Europe. Mostly, however, I was known for my works with the use of geomatics, multiscalular spatial analysis and landscape theory within archaeology.
This entry was posted in New Space Opera, Post Modern, Ripping Yarn, Science Fiction, Strong Characters, Thoughtful, Ultratech, Unique or Imaginative World and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Feersum Endjinn, Iain M. Banks (Orbit)

  1. Lòt Poto-a says:

    Nice read. Hope to pick up this book one day.

    What’s scary is that we’re already beginning to type like such. (ex. lol, wth? etc.) Slowly but surely, we actually might migrate to this quasi-phonetic language depicted in Feersum Endjinn. After all, who still writes in script/cursive? Not many.

    My teacher also suggested this wacky idea: Maybe as time repeats itself, we might revert to hieroglyphics. For example, the Apple and Windows signs. No one needs to think twice before recognizing the Macintosh or Windows logo, or the Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks logos , or even Wal-Mart! Perhaps virtually 75% of our future written language may be in hieroglyphic-type writing.

  2. Thomas Evans says:

    Never a problem in delays! I’m the king of them.

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