Iain M. Banks
I can’t begin to tell you how saddened I am by the recent death of Iain Banks. I can’t believe that The Hydrogen Sonata will be the final word on his most consistent, unparalleled and brilliant of inventions, The Culture, a seemingly futuristic construct that allowed Banks to assess and reassess aspects of our own society’s development and it’s likely outcomes should we continue as we are…
I’ve been a Banksian fan almost from the very beginning. Bank’s first novel The Wasp factory was published in 1984, but it was a year later when I started at Leeds Poly in 1985 that I was told in no uncertain terms by one of my new friends that I just had to read it and that I was obviously from some backwater town for not having done so already (students are like that).
Suffice to say my friend was right (about my birthplace and Iain Banks) and from then on I was hooked. I’ve bought every single one of his books since, even taking time off work to go to bookshops where I’d queue to get whatever his latest book was signed by him and to shake the great man’s hand… (well I did that 3 times anyway)
Iain Banks (and even more so Iain M. Banks, the name he used for his Science Fiction works) was the only author I can think of that I counted down the days to the “release” of his newest book in the same way I did for the new releases of records from bands. It was the seemingly limitless invention of his imagination that amazed me, with each story in whatever style or genre, expanding beyond all expectations to the point where I used to wonder how on earth he was going to follow on from (let alone better) the last one.
Banks’s writing never disappointed, and I would argue that he almost single handedly (along with maybe William Gibson) made Science Fiction cool again in the 1980’s, giving it a more high tech and politically aware aspect that, after the floppy excesses of the Science Fantasy books that washed out most of the decade, was very welcome to a hungry mind like mine.
So it is with an empty heart that I have to accept that there is only one more book to look forward to from one of Britain’s very finest writers. The Quarry will be a story about living with cancer and was rushed forward in the schedules so that Iain could be there to see it published on June 20th.
Sadly this was not to be and the literary world is a lesser place for his loss.