Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

"I had been making the rounds of the Sacrifice Poles the day we heard my brother had escaped. I already knew something was going to happen; the Factory told me."

Frank is the ruler of of an island demesne, and he rules with an iron hand. He posseses every fear and neurosis all teenagers share, but his own have been cultivated and developed to include sociopathy and psychosis.

He's got a penchant for killing you see, and his island's defense system consists of animal corpses and the ritual slaying of wasps in a factory of his own concoction.

But Frank's affinity for taking lives is not limited to the slaughter of animals. As the book begins he confides that he has already killed three family members. Strangely enough, he is not the crazy one in his family; his brother has escaped an asylum he was placed in for setting fire to dogs and harassing local children. We come to find out that their father, who has imposed the island sanctuary upon the family, is no innocent either; he has dark secrets.

Written in a birdseye view of psychosis first person, Banks allows us inside the head of a teenaged serial killer. What we find is disturbing, disgusting, despondent, and often hilarious. A cult classic since it's release in 1984, Iain Banks's (also known as Iain M. Banks when writing Science Fiction novels) first novel caused quite a bit of controversy for it's portrayal of brutality and sadism.

While not normally construed as speculative fiction, The Wasp Factory works as -- quite obviously -- a horror novel. There are also elements of supernatural fantastical occurences, and as such, TWF falls squarely into speculative fiction.


** Collectors notes: The London Macmillan first UK edition hardcover (pictured up top) is the true first edition of this novel and is prized by collectors. Copies in fine condition sell between 400 and 500 dollars American, and signatures, especially in North America where he does not visit often, are highly collectible.

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