Iain M Banks

April 6, 2013

On the 3rd of April 2013 Iain [M] Banks made an announcement, that started quite simply: “I am officially very poorly”. By the end of that announcement it was clear that Iain truly is the master of good humour, macabre and understatement – he’s dying, and very soon there will be no Iain Banks in the world, ‘M’ or otherwise.

Except that’s not true, well, Iain may disagree, but I have a shelf full of books with his name on it and says he’ll live forever, even if it’s in a metaphorical sense (not much consolation I realise). I’ve been thumbing through that already well thumbed collection. Every random page I settled on is a gem, every sentence earns its keep. If I ever become half as good as Iain Banks I will be ten times the writer I am now.

There is one book in particular, the first Iain Banks book I read actually, Complicity, where the main protagonist is playing a game called Despot throughout the novel. When my random flicking settled on the chapter where Despot is introduced I laughed, because in my current WIP, the main protagonist is playing a game I made up called Endless Possibilities throughout the story. Endless Possibilities has a substantially different role to play in my novel, but I suspect, all those years ago, Complicity planted the tiniest seeds of an idea in the back of my mind, and, over time, a novel has blossomed. Thank-you Iain.

Iain also created “The Culture” when he writes with an M in his name. I was given one of The Culture novels by a friend, “Consider Phlebas”, which turned out to be the first of Iain ‘M’s novels to feature the breath-taking Galaxy spanning but absolutely believable Culture, with their enormous spaceships and tiny, fly sized (indeed fly disguised) robots. I remember thinking how amazing and odd that two authors could have almost the same name. Indeed, I hypothesised that the Sci-Fi author must have had to add the ‘M’ to his name to differentiate himself from his non-SF counterpart! But who could blame me (OK, I could have read the blurbs on the back of the book, or perhaps the “By the same author” section…) so different are the books in style and scale. Yet irrespective of which style he was writing in, his novels are truly mesmerising.

Iain’s announcement can be read here: http://www.iain-banks.net/

and you can leave your own personal message to him here: http://friends.banksophilia.com/guestbook/ 

(I hope Iain’s not reading these in his precious final few months, I’m thinking they’re more of a collective group hug for the rest of us)

John Hoggard

John Hoggard

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