Scottish novelist Iain Banks died today, just two months after announcing his terminal cancer diagnosis to the world. He leaves behind a legion of friends, family, and fans, many of whom have reached out in recent weeks to share their admiration and sorrow. His final novel, The Quarry, will be released on June 20th.
Beginning with his controversial (and commercially successful) debut The Wasp Factory (1984), Iain Banks published many non-SF novels, some of which featured fantastic elements, and many of which were enormous bestsellers in the British Isles. 1992’s The Crow Road, a modern-day Scottish family saga with elements of murder mystery, was adapated into a BBC mini-series in 1996.
Under the byline “Iain M. Banks”, he was also the author of one of the most influential bodies of science fiction in the last thirty years, most notably the “Culture” series that began with Consider Phlebas (1997). Set in a far-future interstellar society comprising multiple species of intelligent life, the Culture stories are both unabashed space opera and insightful examinations of anarchy, power, and meaningful action in a post-scarcity universe. Through their verve, color, and indefatigable intelligence, the Culture stories have had an immeasurable impact on modern British science fiction.
In the social world of British SF, Banks will be remembered as a larger-than-life figure—irrepressible, fearlessly outspoken, a boisterous lover of life’s many pleasures, and given to unsung acts of kindness and generosity. Read his books and remember him.