Saturday, January 23, 2010

[books] Feersum Endjinn

Feersum Endjinn Feersum Endjinn by Iain M. Banks


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Feersum Endjinn is a work of science fiction set in a time long after the enlightened humans have left the planet and the people living on earth have some technology, not all of which they understand. There is also the kript, or crypt or cryptosphere: an internet of sorts where AIs are free to roam. Moreover, when "real" people die, they can download into the crypt and continue "living" as a sentient being there. People can crypt in at any time and in some cases, crypt forms can take take control of corporeal entities.

This jumble provides for a great story set in the time when the sun's orbit is going to lead the planet into a space cloud, thereby dimming the sun and bringing on a long ice age (the whole thing is referred to as the Encroachment). The first generation of humans anticipated this and left a device to help the rest survive this - this is the titular Feersum Endjinn. The problem is that the current humans have no idea how to activate this and, as if that wasn't enough, have embroiled themselves in internal petty conflict.

Thats a lot to say without giving away the rest of the plot - one last interesting element: the book is written as 4 different alternating narratives. One of these, a character named Bascule, speaks only in phonetics. Thus, there is a good fourth of the book that reads like this:
Woak up. Got dresd. Had brekfast. Spoke wif Ergates thi ant who sed itz juss been wurk wurk wurk 4 u lately master Bascule, Y dont u ½ a holiday? & I agreed & that woz how we decided we otter go 2 c Mr Zoliparia in thi I-ball ov thi gargoyle Rosbrith.

Its interesting, albeit on a different plane, how quickly the human brain adopts to this form of written english. Pretty quickly you will find yourself reading phonetics just as well as you do regular English. Fascinating.

All in all, a good book, recommended if you are into science fiction and want something a bit different.

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2 comments:

diabolical_mdog said...

Dude you've got to come up with something more fun than "stars" as your unit of measure. How about Rupees? Or maybe chaiwallas?

::rushabh:: said...

Its not my rating system - I write the review on goodreads and its their system and then just cross post into the blog.