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30.6.05

FEERSUM ENDJINN by Ian M. Banks

While many people might be familiar with books written by Ian Banks such as the "The Wasp Factory" and "Espedair Street", you might not know about his best work, writing science fiction as Ian M. Banks. I would recommend this book to anyone who's looking for an adventure novel or to those who've only read Ian Banks and are not aware of how inventive Mr Banks can be.

Story

Earth, set in the far future an encroachment is approaching threatening the solar system, once the encroachment blocks the sun Earth will enter a new ice age, despite this threat an increasingly desperate war is being fought for supreme control by two rival factions. Thrown into this mix is a computer network called the crypt, it allows people to download their personalities into the crypt giving them access to a virtual world and the option of more than one life (anyone who's seen the Matrix will be familiar with this idea). The story follows four characters who are trying to save the world in their own way, Chief Scientist Gadfium, Commander in Chief Count Sessine, Asura and a 4 year old teller called Bascule. Main feature I need to warn you about is Bascule's dialogue, the dialogue is written phonetically, for example

"A rikiti ole chare lif"

translated

"A rickety old chair lift"

I struggled to read the book the first time due to this gimmick, but the story is worth the effort.

Summary

The basic elements of the story, a quest, an impending danger (which is impossible to defeat) and a possible savior, is nothing new in a fantasy adventure book but the end result is a fast paced and inventive story, brilliant.

Crash Guide to Sci Fi ideas

AI - Artificial Intelligence, a popular idea in Sci Fi, machines which can think like humans but without human limitations. If you could download your personality into one of these machines, you might be able to change the perception of time (and at the same time change the speed of your thought processes). For example, you might spend a year studying a subject with your personality running on the machine but only an hour has passed in the real world.

Space Elevator - Put a satellite into space so that it orbits the earth at the same speed as the earth rotates, to an observer on earth the satellite appears to hover over one point on the earth, this is called geosynchronous orbit. Build a tower up to this satellite, install an elevator and bingo, cheap way to get into space (ignoring the cost of the elevator). As you might guess, the technology to achieve this is not yet available.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_elevator

1 Comments:

Blogger I'm at work said...

I ought to read some Sci Fi - I used to read a lot of it in the 70's , mainly classic 50/60's stuff - Nebula award stuff.

Where to start with modern Sci Fi?

6:39 PM

 

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