Countless millennia in the future, an interstellar
dust cloud encroaches upon the solar system. Earth seems doomed.
There is an escape route, maybe more than one, but some people will
do anything to keep one a secret and sabotage the other.
The good guys here include a computer-generated construct, who
might or might not hold the key to salvation; the cyber-ghost of a
man already murdered eight times; and young Bascule, who only wants
to find his lost friend, Ergates the ant . . .
Bascule also can't spell worth a darn, which is simultaneously the
book's biggest flaw and its grandest source of entertainment. A good
one-fourth of the novel is written phonetically; this, of course, is
very difficult and tiresome to read, but Bascule's unique voice and
sense of humor are worth it: " . . . Dartlin, who is a deer litl bird
but wude not evin get a oneribil menshin if they woz givin out prizes
4 conversayshinil coherince . . ."
Feersum Endjinn is an elegantly constructed novel, phonetic
spelling aside, with a plot that spans multiple layers of base
reality and cyberspace and possibly even time. It is the kind of
novel that can have no sequel, although other stories could take
place within its world. And it has an understated last line that
sends shivers down the spine.
Iain Banks is the author of several other highly regarded novels,
and while Feersum Endjinn is the first I have read, as Bascule
might say, "Am redy 2 reed moar."
This review originally appeared in the July 23, 1995 edition of
The Roanoke Times.
This review copyright 1995 by Wendy Morris