Iain (M.) Banks - 1954-2013

posted in Obituaries by Cargo Cult on Monday June 10 2013

My heroes are dying. I knew it was coming, but now it's Iain Banks' turn.

At least I had the chance to thank him first.

I've never been able to look at furniture in the same way since.

I think my first exposure to his writing must have been a brief snippet of the Wasp Factory, late at night on Radio 4. It involved an open brain and maggots. It was very late at night.

While at university, following various upcoming computer games, someone online mentioned that the writing for the forthcoming 'Halo' kind of resembled that from a certain 'Iain M. Banks'. Ooh, I thought, let's investigate. A trip to the nearby Blackwell's resulted in a paperback copy of Consider Phlebas - which turned out to be much superior to the unreleased digital alternatives. I commenced the reading of everything else Banksian I could lay my hands on.

I was having a pretty difficult time at university - the escapism, pitch-black humour and leftist sensibilities helped me rebuild some semblance of a functioning mind. The full spectrum of conscious thought - from the breathtakingly ugly to the brilliantly sublime seemed contained within those books.

The novels stayed as an irregular rhythm to my life, an intermittent backdrop as I started to write fiction as part of another unconventional medium - being ever-so-slightly inspired by that Mr. I. Banks, with or without the 'M.'. Additional evidence - the username I go by on many online systems. It's not just a comment on other modders' game development practices...

Eventually, I inadvertently ended up with another job as a result of those spare-time efforts. And, shipped over to the USA, I’d quietly suggest the books of this almost-unheard-of ‘Iain M. Banks’ to friends and colleagues, quietly proud as his name spread through the efforts of publishing companies and others.

The older covers for Banks books in the USA are awful. Yes, I went to an American bookshop on my first trip to the USA - where I did manage to find numerous absent-from-UK-bookshops titles from Stanisław Lem, who'd had the temerity to die just days beforehand.

I never had the chance to meet him. And now I never will. I raise a (sadly American-sized, albeit with a Black Mesa logo) pint in his honour.

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RobinOttens's gravatar

1. He will be missed

Posted by RobinOttens at 7:36AM, Monday June 10 2013

I only started reading his books recently, but had been interested for years. Banks' books quickly climbed their way up my list of favorite literature. Coincidentally it was your Minerva blog and username that indirectly pointed me his way.

So I'll thank you for that. And I'll thank Iain Banks for his absolutely wonderful writing and imagination. May he rest in peace.

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