I have a confession to make – I haven’t read as much sci fi as I would have liked. Iain M Banks is one of the few sci fi novelists whose work I am very familiar with and he is certainly a good one to be familiar with. His grandiose space opera’s are packed with detail and fascinating characters.
Of course it helps that he was Scottish! It’s always inspiring to find someone of your own nationality who is successful at what they do, especially if it is something you aspire to. Banks was born in Fife and studied Literature at Stirling University. His first novel, The Wasp Factory was published in 1984, to considerable controversy.
Unfortunately I haven’t read any of his non-sci fi work (though it’s on my TBR list) so I’m not really in a position to comment on it. His first sci fi novel, Consider Phlebus, was published in 1987 and is the first of the Culture series. He had 26 books published before his death last year and the 27th, The Quarry was published just after. There will also be a collection of poetry released next year after, in an interview, Banks said:
The poems are a part of the desperate urge to get things that were supposed to be long-term projects out the way. I’m going to see if I can get a book of poetry published before I kick the bucket. I’ve got about 50 I’m proud of.
The “kick the bucket” comment was typical of Banks. He announced on 3rd April 2013 on his website that he had inoperable cancer of the gallbladder and also said he had asked his partner, Adele Hartley, if she would do him the honour of becoming his widow. I remember reading the announcement with a great deal of sadness and then sending the link to my brother, who I knew would be devastated, being a huge fan. Banks died on 9th June last year; it seemed so quick after his announcement and it’s sad to think there won’t be any more Culture novels to look forward to.
He left a great legacy though and a career he could be proud of. I’m also proud to be an aspiring writer in Scotland, with role models like him to look up to.