The Wasp Factory – by Iain Banks

Before I begin I should point out that the Wasp Factory by Iain Banks is one of his most early works after his transition from an anticipated future in Sci Fi writing to mainstream script.  Iain adored Science Fiction believing it be in his own words “the examplar arena of the unfettered imagination”.  He goes on to say “The Wasp Factory represented to me admitting partial defeat, heaving a slightly theatrical sigh, stepping reluctantly away from the gaudy wall-size canvasses of science/space fiction to lay down my oversize set of Rolf Harris paint rollers, pick up a set of brushes thinner than pencils and – jaw set, brows furrowed – lower myself to using a more restricted palette and produce what felt like a miniature in comparison.”  And so as we go on to read the story set before us, we can see a talent raw & brash but heavily laden with emerging talent.

And so it is with this foreknowledge that I go on to say that I was mildly shocked by Iain’s interpretation of a teenage mind.  The brutality and psychotic coldness is startling and yet he has drip fed such depth into the character that you almost, and I do say so reservedly, feel some sympathy for Frank Cauldhame.  I think the ‘blurb’ on the book doesn’t prepare you for the journey that it takes you on, but that shouldn’t deter you from taking that first step.  It is still a most worthy book to spend time with and almost actively watch our author grow into his mainstream style.

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