11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic but difficult book
The world of "Feersum Endjinn" is incredibly weird. Set in the very far future, the Encroachment threatens the Earth with a new Ice Age and the possible extinction of life on the planet itself. Only the remnants of a civilisation are left on Earth ,with most of the rest of its inhabitants having long since departed for the stars. The society that is left is totally...
Published on 18 Jan. 2006 by L. Davidson
3.0 out of 5 stars A demanding read but not rewarded by the ending
I don’t have a happy relationship with cyberpunk or it is more correct to say that, so far, I’ve rarely been able to find books in this sub-genre of science fiction that were congenial to my own mind. I don’t think that is cyberpunk’s fault, which indeed addresses definitely tasty issues, but I imagine that I came across some wrong books...
Published 5 months ago by Anakina
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3.0 out of 5 stars A demanding read but not rewarded by the ending,
This review is from: Feersum Endjinn (Kindle Edition)
I don’t have a happy relationship with cyberpunk or it is more correct to say that, so far, I’ve rarely been able to find books in this sub-genre of science fiction that were congenial to my own mind. I don’t think that is cyberpunk’s fault, which indeed addresses definitely tasty issues, but I imagine that I came across some wrong books. “Feersum Endjinn” is largely one of them, even if I haven’t completely disliked it.
I won’t talk about the plot in this review, as perhaps the most beautiful thing is to immerse themselves in the universe created by the author without knowing anything and be surprised by the wonders born from his imagination. I prefer to concentrate on how it is written and try to figure out why I didn’t like all of it.
I appreciated the choices made by Banks in the use of narrative techniques, but not quite how he put them into practice. Carrying forward separate plot lines of a story to rejoin them in the end is a challenge. Unfortunately, this prevents from providing the reader with a well-defined protagonist. Each of the main characters of the single plot lines has everything it takes to be appreciated by the reader, but the fragmented way in which they are presented makes the reader lose the special connection that is created between the latter and the protagonist or another main character to which they tend to become attached. This is accentuated by the fact that some of these characters have no depth, are almost evanescent. You have the constant feeling of reading separate stories, almost like different books set in the same universe, but not all at the same quality level. This tends to be confusing, especially at the beginning of the reading, but then things get better, especially if like me you are used to make parallel readings and are able to keep them alive at the same time in your mind.
Another element of difficulty is the choice to tell the story narrated by Bascule, one of these main characters, using phonetic spelling (I’m talking about a quarter of the entire novel). You need to hear his words in your mind to understand them. Surely it is a brave and very original choice. On the practical side, though, since I love to read also to improve the use of language (whether Italian or any other language in which I read) I’ve found it simply annoying and I’m sorry about that, because the character of Bascule is the best narrated throughout the novel, as he tells his story in first person and does so with considerable irony.
Beyond these aspects, as I said, the way in which the story is told wasn’t so bad at all. While reading you begin to see the connections between the various plot lines and a feeling of waiting is created for an ending that promises great revelations.
And here is the main problem. After a series of exciting action scenes all of a sudden you get to the ending that seems to appear from nowhere, without solving anything!
Unfortunately, a good book with an ending that does not work, as far as I’m concerned, stops being good. What a pity.
Rita Carla Francesca Monticelli, author of Red Desert - Point of No Return
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars feers, as thi yung peepil sa,
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I ½ olwayz luvd eeyun em banxiz cyance fikshun, its bettir than moast ov hiz uthir just eeyun banks bewks, but feersum endjinn iz 1 of thi best evir sints u ½ 2 wirk HARD 2 get wots goin on, c? thass betir than sitin frew 2 hrs ov sum daft film fool ov noyzy xplowzhns laik trans4merz or termin8r rite?
An if u bags (hehe) owt thir r reely havin probs wif thi fownetickly ritn stuf wel i fownd it helps u if u reed it owt lowd in a scotish akzent.
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Sci-Fi,
In this case fantastic in both the superlative and literal sense of the word.
It's a shame that so many people seem to have gotten hung up on the use of phonetic spelling. It seems to me that only one reviewer has noted the actual reason for it's use - to convey accents and nuances of speech which can't be represented by normal prose. This is why, as some reviewers have noted, certain words are spelled differently at different points in the book - because they're spoken by different people! Amazingly it works so well, that I (like the other reviewer) also identified Bascule as having a Glaswegian accent! So in fact, rather than being a superfluous gimmick it is in fact an ingenious literary device.
That said, even without this flourish the story is breathtaking, and while not in the same league as iconic classics like Mervyn Peake's Ghormenghast, it certainly has that feel in terms of its scale of vision. I agree it can be challenging to absorb at times, and some pages might require a couple of re-reads, but believe me, it's worth it. The only reason I've not given five stars is because books like Gormenghast and Dune exist.
Finally, I must say that rarely have I been so satisfied by the ending of a novel. It put a big smile on my face!
1.0 out of 5 stars An award winning book from Iain M Banks, but one of the most difficult to access.,
Feersum Endjinn by Iain M. Banks
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I have read all of Iain M Banks books, and I read Feersum Endjinn the year after it was first published in 1994. This is probably the only Science Fiction book of Iain M Banks that I had read problems finishing.
This is a future earth story, and part of the issue I have with this book was that the main character: Bascule the Teller writes a large part of the story phonetically, and is really quite difficult to get used to. What actually happens is your reading pattern is disrupted, and instead of focusing on the story and the character's dilemma, you end up deciphering the text like hieroglyphs.
To give you an idea, the fourth chapter starts:
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.
The book was well received and won a BSFA award in 1994, however I have only read it once and with great difficulty.
Not one I normally recommend, but for completeness sake, one has to read it.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Strange Read,
Many people have thoroughly enjoyed this book as you can see from the other reviews. I however found it to be less engaging than the other Iain M Banks books.
The characters seemed rather more shallow than those in other books - also the frequent jumps to cryptspace can be quite hard to follow.
To those about to read this book I would recommend reading it quickly in a few short bursts, you'll probably get more out of it. Personally I found this alot less engaging than Iain's other books - most of which I cannot put down! However, maybe this is a bit like marmite, so many other people have thoroughly enjoyed it!
5.0 out of 5 stars "..and there is no spiritual grandeur to provide a measure"? The fact that we might expect it says something about Banks.,
"A reader who has never considered how big a space elevator must be to escape gravity might miss the 'vast and sullen grandeur' of the world Banks describes, a̲n̲d̲ ̲t̲h̲e̲r̲e̲ ̲i̲s̲ ̲n̲o̲ ̲s̲p̲i̲r̲i̲t̲u̲a̲l̲ ̲g̲r̲a̲n̲d̲e̲u̲r̲ ̲t̲o̲ ̲p̲r̲o̲v̲i̲d̲e̲ ̲a̲ ̲m̲e̲a̲s̲u̲r̲e̲." REBECCA GOWERS
"..and there is no spiritual grandeur to provide a measure."
I have myself had the same thought. What is it about Banks' SF that actually brings into question a lack of spiritual grandeur? Is it merely our own lack or is this itself a successful communion with the transcendental? Perhaps it does succeed just as an absence of light reveals the presence of a Black Hole? Have you also had this question about Banks's SF?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great story, annoying read,
This book is set in a far future where the planet is not as we recognise it. All live in the same area though a threat is looming to affect all people. The tale focuses mainly on four characters and weaves their seperate, and yet interlinking, tales throughout the chapters.
The story is original and develops a world that is a rich with many levels to it. As the book continues additional levels are added and layers to the story are added.
My main frustration lay with one of the characters. Part of their character meant that they spoke in phonetics and thus their parts were written in such a way. This lead to times where I put the book aside frustrated with the way that my reading had slowed down so considerably.
Get past that and it is a good book.
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just because a book is not easy to read doesn't mean its bad,
By A Customer
For my money this is one of the greatest books that Iain M Banks has produced, and I love all of his sci-fi. The colloquial parts slow you down a little, but they are brilliant and highly amusing. Banks' gift isn't necessarily steering clear of cyberscience, rather it is incorporating high technology into a comprehensible and understandable society. The world of Feersum Endjinn is so radically wierd that this all works incredibly well. Any successful far future novel is going to be hard on the reader, because the world is likely to be an irrevocably different place after millenia of development. Feersum Endjinn is also exciting, poignant, haunting and incredibly fast paced. Claims that he has become too 'arty' since about the time that this was written are just patently untrue. Banks has always meditated on important issues and been able to write compelling, dazzling fiction. Just read Excession or Look to Windward to see that he hasn't lost his touch. In fact he is going from strength to strength. This book is a testament to his prodigious skill, and a frankly staggering work of the imagination. Buy it.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better & Better,
Well now, I've just finished reading this for the third time (in about 10 years) and I just love it more each time! The much maligned phonetic sections are no problem in our 'textspeak' times, you soon get used to it anyway. I also found it made the character of Bascule more endearing.
Warmer and rather less torture ridden than some of Banks other works which is definitely a good thing.
What makes this such a good read is the array of wonderful ideas and concepts on display. The far distant, but still recognisable future. The perfectly realised virtual reality of the 'crypt'. And the truly mind blowing scale of the mega-architecture. wholeheartedly recommended.
5.0 out of 5 stars Very weird but superb,
On a future earth threatened by the destruction promised by the encroachment. Four seperate characters set out on different paths to try to save themselves and the world. This is one of the least accessible of Banks's novels but one of the most rewarding. He creates his worlds by writing with warmth and affection about the characters at the centre and as he describes the fast edifices at the centre of them, he never allows us to forget the humanity of his central figures. The use of four parallel narratives is a complex structure as is the non standard script deployed by one of his narrators but the use of such techniques makes this novel a rewarding read.
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Feersum Endjinn (Sf Masterworks) by Iain M Banks (Hardcover - 1 Jun. 2014)
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