Feersum Endjinn By Iain M. Banks

This is the 6th science-fiction novel from Scottish writer Iain M. Banks. It is also the sixth novel I have read from him in a few short days, including The Algebraist, Consider Phlebas, The Player of Games, Against A Dark Background and Excession.

I have enjoyed reading most of them, though I regard Excession and The Algebraist as his best. Feersum Endjinn was published in 1994.

This is a spoiler free review of the science-fiction novel Feersum Endjinn by Iain M. Banks.

This book is set far in Earth’s future. Most of the technology of the past has been lost after a diaspora had taking place. A lot of the humans have left Sol for distant systems. On this world, the humans have a set number of lives; they are reborn through the Cryptosphere, a sort of meta-internet, into new bodies. All humans have 8 lives.

Most of the bottom levels of the Cryptosphere are inhabited by AIs, or their remnants. The Ancients had placed limits on their sentience, but due to the chaos underneath, it is believed that sentience has reappeared, in a strange fashion.

It is a perilous time for humanity on Earth, as the Encroachment is happening; the solar system is slowly drifting into a molecular cloud, which would plunge Earth into another Ice Age and end life on Earth.

The Ancients, before leaving for the stars, left behind a device, a “fearsome engine” to help with this problem. The novel chronicles the path of four characters, who never meet until the end of the novel, to try and activate it. The novel tells the story from the viewpoint of the characters. A fourth of the novel is written in the first person and phonetically. It is incredibly hard to read and somewhat pointless. This is explained because the character, Bascule, is dyslexic.

Count Sessine was rapidly assassinated 7 times in a row. For his last life, he took a few precautions. Thanks to his foresight, he is able to continue living in the Cryptosphere. For some reason, the rulers of the planet are attacking the Cryptosphere.

Chief Scientist Gadfium is perplexed by the strange messages she is receiving from the Plain of sliding stones.

Asura is an envoy from the Cryptosphere, to help deal with the Encroachment, though the rulers do not see it this way and try to stop her from talking.

Finally, Bascule the Teller moves into the Cryptosphere to look for his lost talking ant.

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