Wednesday, 12 June 2013

On the news of Iain Banks' passing

 We continue in our children, and in our works and in the memories of others; we continue in our dust and ash.
- The Crow Road

Iain Banks broadened my teenage mind more than any other writer that I had yet encountered. I first read The Bridge when I was 16, which baffled me with its mixture of fantasy and reality, sex and incest, black comedy and madness. I was already aware of Iain M. Banks, the sf persona and on a whim decided to only read the 'Iain Banks' titles, which were supposedly straight fiction. The Bridge of course is anything but, a Ballardian fable that skips in and out of our world. It was compelling reading and I quickly hunted down the other titles with their familiar black and white cover designs. 

Iain Banks, Iain M. Banks, Bill Bailey, Hot Fuzz, Edgar Wright
The hilarious tribute to Iain Banks' dual writing career in Hot Fuzz.
 Whit, The Crow Road, Complicity, The Wasp Factory, Espedair Street, Canal Dreams, Walking on Glass - I devoured each and every one. In fact I remember spending a lot of time on public transport going to and from school, just flying through each title. The Business was the last 'non sf' book by Banks that I read, and at that point I had overdosed on his dour comedies of excess and psychological disorders. I moved on, found other writers, started tracking down Banks' own influences. He had laid the bedrock for my reading taste from that point on. 

What I admired most about Banks was how his career in both authorial personas proved that genre fiction and its more respectable cousin could be equally sophisticated, intelligent and imaginative. He proved that a story is a story - its worth is in the telling.

Below is a short interview segment from Matthew De Abaitua's excellent SF:UK series, discussing the themes of his utopian conception of The Culture.



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