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Feersum Endjinn Paperback – June 1, 1995

72 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

In a future where the ancients have long since departed Earth for the stars, those left behind live complacent lives filled with technological marvels they no longer understand. Then a cosmic threat known as the Encroachment begins a devastating ice age on Earth, and it sets in motion a series of events that will bring together a cast of original characters who must struggle through war, political intrigues and age-old mysteries to save the world. (B 4worned, 1 oph Banx' carrokters theenx en funetic inglish, which makes for some tough reading but also some innovative prose.) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

All is not well in the mammoth, multitiered underground city-state of Serehfa, where the king and his clan are waging an inexplicable battle with the engineer clan. Meanwhile, the entire planet anxiously awaits the arrival of a dust cloud headed for the sun--a development called the encroachment that threatens to plunge Earth into a life-extinguishing ice age. Having abandoned long ago the means and expertise to flee into space, humanity's only hope for technological deliverance is the crypt, a ubiquitous computer mainframe that stores all recorded knowledge, including the downloaded minds of the dead, but which has been almost totally corrupted by viral chaos. Defying the king's bewildering lack of concern for the encroachment, a rebel scientist, a dead officer living on in the virtuality of the crypt, and a semiliterate youth try to penetrate the crypt's chaotic levels and retrieve the needed knowledge before it's too late. Banks' skill at high-tech speculation continues to grow. Every page of this, his most ingenious work yet, seems to offer more dazzling, intriguing ideas. Carl Hays

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra (June 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553374591
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553374599
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #181,804 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Iain Banks came to widespread and controversial public notice with the publication of his first novel, The Wasp Factory, in 1984. Consider Phlebas, his first science fiction novel, was published under the name Iain M. Banks in 1987. He is now acclaimed as one of the most powerful, innovative, and exciting writers of his generation. Iain Banks lives in Fife, Scotland. Find out more about him at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Glen Engel Cox on December 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
t doesn't matter what Banks is about--from metaphysical to mystery, science fiction to horror--he's always good. Feersum Endjinn is no exception, starting off with multiple viewpoints and plotlines that weave about each other before reaching a grand conclusion, similar to his earlier The Bridge, but within the style of adventure SF rather than metaphysical fantasy. Just because it's SF adventure, doesn't mean that it's entirely fluff--one sixthe of the book is entirely in a "Riddley Walker-ish" language as seen in the title (a character "writes" phonetically), which is difficult at times to read but is surprisingly not grating. It's just another in Banks' voluminous bag of tricks, and he pulls it off like Harry Houdini.
Stars are disappearing because the Encroachment--a cloud of space dust thick enough to block starlight--is slowly enveloping the solar system. Earth has lost some of its technical maturity due to complacency in the ruling bureaucracy and the departure of former generations. However, there is a computer hive-mind that exists that may have the answers to the coming crisis, if only someone knew how to access it and if the rulers would allow them to do so. As the stars flicker out, and the time to do something--anything--decreases, the characters engage in a political struggle to determine how the crisis will be met.
I was initially disappointed that this wasn't a "Culture" novel, having grown to love the philosophical fun of those books, but quickly discovered that there was much to love here as well. Feersum Endjinn has that joy of discovery that is the realm of good science fiction, wherein everything is new and different, where nothing is quite as it seems, yet everything is also very familiar. And Banks, that fine purveyor of the trick ending, decides to go for obfusication rather than chicanery, and the result is quite pleasing. Iain Banks continues his winning streak, every recent book a grand slam home run.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Richard R. Horton on September 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
At the time of the action of this intriguing novel (which occurs over a couple of days, or several decades, depending on how you measure it), the Earth of the very far future is inhabited by the descendants of those who stayed when most humans traveled to the stars in the "Diaspora". Earth is dominated by an aristocratic class, based in a huge castle, so large that the highest tower extends into space, and the King`s residence, a large "palace", is contained within a chandelier of the greater castle. Ordinary humans are allowed 8 normal lifespans (copies apparently made of their brains` contents at the time of death), after which they are allowed 8 additional "lives" in a sort of virtual reality maintained in the global computer net, after which their personality becomes a component of the AI complex which "is" the net (or "crypt" as Banks cleverly calls it.) At the time of the action, Earth is threatened both by the Encroachment, a dust cloud which will swallow the Sun in a few centuries, and by a virus which is infecting the Crypt. Possible solutions to these problems were left by the humans of the Diaspora, but the means of access to these solutions has been forgotten.Read more ›
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Brian Smith on August 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
My manager basically forced this book upon me. And I'm glad he did. ;) (It wasn't forced, per sé; but he recommended it over and over, and his eccentric tastes quite often match mine.) So I borrowed it last summer, and forgot about it until just a few weeks ago, when I guiltily picked it up, hoping to finish before moving.
Thank you. This book was awesome.
The story is in ten chapters, each of which is broken down into four points of view -- a confused foreigner, the chief scientist, a count in the military, and a young kid with spelling issues. (Other viewpoints come along from time to time--for example, the king.) The story evolves through these four completely separate personae: the Earth is being approached by the Encroachment, which is this bizarre cloud that threatens to block out the sun; the people in power are doing little, it seems, to stop it. The four main characters must figure out who they are and what they're doing; only then do they have a hope of figuring out what's going on and stopping the end of the world.
At least, that's the basic story. I don't want to go into any more detail because I don't want to give things away. :) It's an amazing book, and I give it my highest recommendation.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Hank Schwartz on January 5, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am very interested in what Banks has to say and how he says it, but I find several of his books, including this one, to be heavy going.
The stage upon which this tale is set is a phenomenally immense "castle", so large that each room is kilometers across, and a person may live in the eye socket of one of the decorative gargoyles.
In addition to distorting our sense of space, Banks toys with our sense of time by giving humans 8 + 8 lives; 8 in normal reality, and 8 in a virtual reality. Time in virtual space passes at a much much slower rate than normal time.
The characters of this tale inhabit both the real and virtual spaces and times as they work out their own involvements with the impending "Encroachment", and their attempts to avoid a catastrophic end to all life on Earth.
I stumbled along, enjoying the trip but not the struggle. An interesting trip it was, but now on to lighter fare for a while.
Interesting but not an easy read.
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