Jun 9 2013 12:30pm

Iain Banks, 1954-2013

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.

Mani A
1. sn0wcrash
O you who turn the wheel and look windward,
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.

RIP, and condolences to his family.
3. Stargazer
Oh, what I'd give for a Culture style consciousness backup right now! I'm humbled and saddened at the passing of this great Mind.
Tom Smith
4. phuzz
I've been looking at this blank comment box for a couple of minutes now, but I've still got nothing, just

At least we'll always have his books.
Martin Bennedik
5. bennedik
I was born in a water moon. Some people, especially its inhabitants, called it a planet, but as it was only a little over two hundred kilometres in diameter, 'moon' seems the more accurate term. The moon was made entirely of water, by which I mean it was a globe that not only had no land, but no rock either, a sphere with no solid core at all, just liquid water, all the way down to the very centre of the globe.
If it had been much bigger the moon would have had a core of ice, for water, though supposedly incompressible, is not entirely so, and will change under extremes of pressure to become ice. (If you are used to living on a planet where ice floats on the surface of water, this seems odd and even wrong, but nevertheless it is the case.) The moon was not quite of a size for an ice core to form, and therefore one could, if one was sufficiently hardy, and adequately proof against the water pressure, make one's way down, through the increasing weight of water above, to the very centre of the moon.
Where a strange thing happened.
For here, at the very centre of this watery globe, there seemed to be no gravity. There was colossal pressure, certainly, pressing in from every side, but one was in effect weightless (on the outside of a planet, moon or other body, watery or not, one is always being pulled towards its centre; once at its centre one is being pulled equally in all directions), and indeed the pressure around one was, for the same reason, not quite as great as one might have expected it to be, given the mass of water that the moon was made up from.
6. zakalwe
Sad news, this world is a poorer place without him. I raise a glass...
7. pootle
call me highway call me conduit call me lightning rod scout catalyst observer call me what you will i was there when i was required through me passed the overarch bedeckants in their great sequential migration across the universes of the marriage parties of the universe groupings of and the emissaries of the lone bearing the laws of the new from the pulsing core the absolute centre of our nested home all this the rest and others i received as i was asked and transmitted as i was expected without fear favour or failure and only in the final routing of the channel i was
part of did i discharge my duty beyond normal procedures when i moved from a position where my presence was causing conflict in the micro-environment concerned (see attached) considering it prudent to withdraw and reposition myself and my channel-tract where for some long time at least it was again unlikely i would be discovered the initial asso­ciation with the original entity peace makes plenty and the (minor) information-loss ensuing was not as i would have wished but as it represented the first full such liaison in said micro-environment i assert hereby it fell within acceptable parameters i present the entity peace makes plenty and the other above-mentioned collected/embraced/captured/self-submitted entities as evidence of the environment's general demeanour within its advanced/chaotic spectrum-section and urge they be observed and studied free with the sole suggested proviso that any return to their home environment is potentially accompanied by post-association memory confiscation in the linked matter of the suitability of the relevant inhabitants of the micro-environment for (further and ordered) communication or association it is my opinion that the reaction to my presence indicates a fundamental unreadiness as yet for such a signal honour lastly in recognition of the foregoing i wish now to be known hereafter as the excession

thank you

lake sidey
8. lakesidey
....if you're reading this he's long dead; had his appointment with the displacement drone and been zapped to the very livid heart of the system, corpse blasted to plasma in the vast erupting core of Chiark's sun, his sundered atoms rising and falling in the raging fluid thermals of the mighty star, each pulverised particle migrating over the millennia to that planet-swallowing surface of blinding, storm-swept fire, to boil off there, and so add their own little parcels of meaningless illumination to the encompassing night…

I have...nothing to say, really. Except thanks, Mr Banks. For making my life a little bit better.

9. Lisa Hirsch
RIP Iain (M) Banks. An enormous loss.

(The date above for Consider Phlebas, 1997, isn't correct - presume it's a typo for 1987, the correct date of publication according to Banks's own web site.)
Peter Hollo
10. raven

Thanks pootle @7 for that glorious quote.
D. Bell
11. SchuylerH
I don't think I've got anything to add but I found this in The Waste Land:

"He who was living is now dead
We who were living are now dying
With a little patience"

I never thought to read it until now.
12. Mike790
“Was Fergus Urvill anywhere, still? Apart from the body - whatever was left of him physically, down there in that dark, cold pressure - was there anything else? Was his personality intact somehow, somewhere? I found that I couldn't believe that it was. Neither was dad's, neither was Rory's, nor Aunt Fiona's, nor Darren Watt's.

There was no such continuation; it just didn't work that way, and there should even be a sort of relief in the comprehension that it didn't. We continue in our children, and in our works and in the memories of others; we continue in our dust and ash. To want more was not just childish, but cowardly, and somehow constipatory, too. Death was change; it led to new chances, new vacancies, new niches and opportunities; it was not all loss.”

- Iain Banks

Rest in peace.

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