Iain Banks lost his battle with gall bladder cancer today. The Wasp Factory is one of the books most frequently mentioned to me as a book I should discuss on this site and it is an odd/sick book classic, a piece of dark genius. Banks was an author who was truly sui generis and I hope when my time comes, I am able to go with the same black humor Banks showed at the end.
I felt a strange kinship with Banks because I know so few people in real life who never feel lonely. He was raised an only child in a bookish home and as a result, he grew into an adult who never needed company because he was never at loose ends with himself and he didn’t feel the aching loneliness that seems so much a part of the lives of many people. It’s a gift from the Universe to be given the sort of personality wherein one seldom if ever feels boredom or isolation from others.
Banks’ writing as Iain M. Banks informed a lot of how it is that I look at odd books. It’s deeply saddening that he is gone.
8 thoughts on “Godspeed, Iain”
A fine writer and an exemplary Scot. Farewell, Mr Banks. We will miss you.
Yep, a real loss to the literary world 🙁
I’m a big fan of both his contemporary fiction and his sci-fi.
I live in Edinburgh and I was lucky enough to see him a couple of times at the Edinburgh Book Festival.
I also met him another time –
One Monday after work I had walked up into Edinburgh city centre to buy a book for a friend’s birthday. Somehow I totally missed the fact that Transition was out in hardback even though it was there on the shelf in front of me.
The next day I realised Transition was out, but couldn’t face the long walk into town again, so instead ordered the book from Amazon and asked for it to be delivered to my work address.
That Friday, the book turned up at work. I was all set to head home after work, but a couple of friends keep pestering me to go for a drink with them. In the end I agreed and we headed to a nice wee pub up the road. I kept trying to leave, but kept getting bought drinks by my friends. Several drinks later I see Iain Banks turn up at the bar witha couple of friends.
I decided that this was fate, and popped across and (somewhat drunkenly) explained the above story to Iain and asked him to sign my book (which was still sealed in the unopened Amazon packaging and which I had to rip open in front of him). He was very gracious and seemed genuinely happy that I was so pleased to meet him. The fact that I was a bit worse for wear didn’t seem to bother him at all 🙂
Here is a really great and very recent interview with the man:
I didn’t come across Mr Banks until about 3-4 years ago. For about the past decade, I had wandered away from modern authors of fantasy, horror, and science fiction and instead engaged in unearthing the founders of the genres, as well as increasing my devotion to Lovecraftian work. When I came back to currently-published items, I was in a science fiction mood. This led me to Peter Hamilton, Alistair Reynolds (whose Revelation Space series captivated me with its darkness), and Iain Banks.
“Consider Phlebas” was my first work of his, but it was “The Player of Games” that truly captivated me. And his vision of the Culture was what I recognized I wanted the future to be. If possible.
As I am tired and going home from work, I will cut this short. He will be greatly missed.
Everything okay? Just wondering since you haven’t posted in a month…
Hi, Kevin! I don’t know what happened. It’s like all of June just disappeared. I got sucked into working on Houdini’s Revenge – I’ve got a 10K word discussion of some of the events from the Boston Bombing that keeps growing and I have never been particularly good at time awareness. So sorry! Look for my discussion of your book in July AND if David David Katzman is reading, your book is in queue, too.
In short, the only thing wrong is a terrible case of suckitude!
I knew when it started out that Houdini’s Revenge was gonna be trouble.
Hey, thanks for the reply! Good to see you posting again.