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Crow Road
June 9, 2013 8:36 AM   Subscribe

RIP Iain Banks.

Iain Banks reveals brutal impact of cancer in final book
Book review: The Quarry by Iain Banks
Iain Banks talks to Kirsty Wark The author discusses coping with terminal illness and the reaction of his fans to the news.
posted by fearfulsymmetry (372 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
A huge part of my life.

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posted by ArmyOfKittens at 8:38 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by honest knave at 8:39 AM on June 9, 2013


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Mistake Not...
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posted by radwolf76 at 8:40 AM on June 9, 2013


We hardly knew ye...
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posted by Edgewise at 8:41 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by IjonTichy at 8:42 AM on June 9, 2013


From first diagnosis in early March to death in early June. What a sad day. I loved that "I’ve asked my partner Adele if she will do me the honour of becoming my widow" line.
posted by mediareport at 8:42 AM on June 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


The best...

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posted by snuffleupagus at 8:42 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by eriko at 8:44 AM on June 9, 2013


bugger

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posted by fullerine at 8:44 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by Shohobohaum Za at 8:44 AM on June 9, 2013


Half way through Hydrogen Sonata. Do not want it to ever end. Very very sad for loss of great talent.
posted by SueDenim at 8:45 AM on June 9, 2013


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Bit of a hammer low despite knowing it's coming. One of the greats, to me THE great.

Whiskey tonight.

And yes, thinking of The Crow Road a lot.
posted by Artw at 8:47 AM on June 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


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I hope he's found the trick to Subliming and will be patiently awaiting the rest of us when we idiots figure it out.
posted by spitefulcrow at 8:47 AM on June 9, 2013 [23 favorites]


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posted by Lyn Never at 8:47 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by atholbrose at 8:48 AM on June 9, 2013


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Recently read Use of Weapons and loved it. Damn.
posted by meta87 at 8:48 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by acb at 8:48 AM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by markdj at 8:48 AM on June 9, 2013


He was such a great writer. Those of you who only know his work from the Culture series and other SF should know that his non-SF work was just as amazing. You owe it to yourselves to read The Bridge and The Wasp Factory, if you haven't.

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posted by mhoye at 8:49 AM on June 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Gentile or Jew
O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 8:49 AM on June 9, 2013 [58 favorites]


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posted by notbuddha at 8:52 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by knapah at 8:53 AM on June 9, 2013


Oh, this is so sad. I selfishly wanted him to live and write forever, just because his stories filled me with such wonder.
He's someone I wish I could thank for doing what he did.

It will be hard to read he upcoming book, knowing it will be the last ever.
posted by cccorlew at 8:53 AM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Bridge changed my life. At first I thought it was for the better, then I knew it had changed for the worse. Now, I'm sure I don't know if I'm better or worse off, but I do know that my life is completely different for having read his works.

A great writer.
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posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:53 AM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO :(

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posted by kurosawa's pal at 8:54 AM on June 9, 2013


Goddammit, cancer, leave people the fuck alone. I have had it with your shit.

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posted by tzikeh at 8:54 AM on June 9, 2013 [15 favorites]


Whiskey tonight.

yes.
posted by bonehead at 8:57 AM on June 9, 2013


Dammit.

After the announcement earlier this year it doesn't come as a surprise, but it's still a shock. Words fail to express how much his books, both science fiction and otherwise meant to me. I wish I'd been able to meet him to tell him that in person.
posted by MartinWisse at 8:59 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by wotsac at 9:01 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by Palquito at 9:02 AM on June 9, 2013


The Crow Road was the first thing I read while living in Scotland. Great writer, terrible loss.
posted by Vhanudux at 9:03 AM on June 9, 2013


I was in my public library not too long ago, poking around for something to read, and saw Hydrogen Sonata on the shelf. I picked it up, all excited at being able to read another Culture novel, and then remembered it would be the last. I put it back. I wasn't ready to be done with them yet.

I'm still not.

“I'm saying with very few exceptions nothing lasts forever, and among those exceptions, no work or thought of man is numbered.”
― Iain M. Banks


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posted by nubs at 9:05 AM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Crow Road made me appreciate what an awesome family I really have, and got me past my post-adolescent taking-that-for-granted phase.

The elegiac tone of Look To Windward was a revelation and deeply affected me.

The Wasp Factory made me realize that I am a deeply strange person, and that's just fine. (It also fairly brilliantly revealed the interesting non-Ballardian uses that Ballard's techniques could be put to.)

His last letter — "the honour of becoming my widow" — was about the classiest middle finger to death I've ever read.

This is a bright, sunny, absolutely miserable day, and I'm going to go smoke a cigarette and have a good single malt in his honour.

Damnit, damnit, damnit.

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posted by sixswitch at 9:07 AM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


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posted by pixie at 9:07 AM on June 9, 2013


That was...quick. Damn.

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posted by zombieflanders at 9:08 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by biffa at 9:08 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by Monsieur Caution at 9:08 AM on June 9, 2013


Oh shit oh shit oh shit. Fuck. Dammit.

Whiskey tonight.

Not going to wait that long.

Thanks, Mr. Banks. I only recently started reading your books, and I'm trying to read slowly (not my usual habit) to make them last longer. Thank you, thank you so much.

Fuck.
posted by rtha at 9:09 AM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Iain Banks in Islay
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posted by Dumsnill at 9:12 AM on June 9, 2013


Jesus, that was even quicker than forecast. RIP, you wondrous atheist lefty, and it's out with the single malt for me.
posted by Decani at 9:12 AM on June 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


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posted by gauche at 9:12 AM on June 9, 2013


"The email that went out from Adele said that the end was peaceful, and he was in no pain." Dave Haddock who writes the Banksonian
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:13 AM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Laphroiag would probably be most appropriate, for those wishing to narrow it down. Not to everyone's taste though so substitute if necessary.
posted by Artw at 9:14 AM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


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Fuck. Goddamnit.
*sniff*
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posted by leslies at 9:15 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by edd at 9:16 AM on June 9, 2013


GCU Dramatic Exit, Or, Thank you And Goodnight.
posted by ceiriog at 9:18 AM on June 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


It is an absolutely stunning day today in Edinburgh. He left in sunshine. RIP.

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posted by Happy Dave at 9:18 AM on June 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Well, damnit.
posted by HFSH at 9:18 AM on June 9, 2013


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As a tribute, it's somehow lacking in gravitas.
posted by Grimgrin at 9:19 AM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


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His novels informed and changed the way I think about people, and politics, and purpose. I hope he died considering he had won.

"Death, he remembered somebody saying once, was a kind of victory. To have lived a long good life, a life of prodigious pleasure and minimal misery, and then to die; that was to have won." ~Iain M. Banks
posted by Gilgongo at 9:20 AM on June 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


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posted by Bwithh at 9:29 AM on June 9, 2013


I choose to believe there's a little baseball-sized shape missing from inside his corpse. Godspeed Mr Banks.
posted by phearlez at 9:30 AM on June 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


Well this is the first I've heard of him, so thanks for that! I definitely want to read more by this wicked cool author.

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posted by eparchos at 9:32 AM on June 9, 2013



From: I Told You Not To Do That
To: Meatfucker
Cc: This Will Wendell, Needs More Gravitas
Subject: Did you just do what I think you just did?

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posted by zengargoyle at 9:32 AM on June 9, 2013 [19 favorites]


Oh, crap. He was one of those authors who I didn't exactly follow, but, when I was at a loss for something to read, "pick up the latest Banks" was always a safe bet. Shit.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:32 AM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by Free word order! at 9:38 AM on June 9, 2013


No.

I've been feeling shitty lately cause it feels like all the bad guys are winning. And now - we've lost one of the good guys. I was thinking about the Culture and if mankind could really move to a place that we could all reach our full potentals - and I took comfort from the world Banks created. But now he's gone too. I hope his family finds peace, knowing that so many loved his works.

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posted by helmutdog at 9:39 AM on June 9, 2013


I had only just started reading Banks in the past couple of years. I wish I had found out about him earlier, just so I could have enjoyed the anticipation of waiting for a new book to come out every year or two for a little while longer.

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posted by KingEdRa at 9:39 AM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by cjelli at 9:41 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by dbiedny at 9:42 AM on June 9, 2013


He imagined a society that we could create given time and better natures. RIP
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:42 AM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


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posted by sammyo at 9:42 AM on June 9, 2013


News like a punch. Still kind of hard to believe. I loved the tone of his literary novels, a wicked humanistic humour that let the reader feel they were in on the joke. Haven't tried the SF since struggling through The Algebraist at age 16, but maybe it's time.
posted by rollick at 9:43 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 9:44 AM on June 9, 2013


More than "just" a writer: Iain Banks the novelist has died at the age of 59. A committed supporter of the anti-war movement, he tore up his passport in 2007 in protest over Tony Blair's lies that took took Britain into war with Iraq.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:46 AM on June 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


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posted by oneironaut at 9:48 AM on June 9, 2013


Iain Banks in conversation with the Open University. (44.59)
posted by rollick at 9:49 AM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Such a voice. RIP, I'll miss you.

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posted by arcticseal at 9:50 AM on June 9, 2013


A decade ago the husband of a workmate taught me how to play Go. At the same time he lent me his copy of The Player of Games.

Last year I bought the entire Culture series from iBooks. Don't know why I took so long, but the idea of Azad was still impressed on my brain.

Tonight I start The Use of Weapons.
posted by ambivalentic at 9:52 AM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by Yesterday's camel at 9:52 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by Unioncat at 9:54 AM on June 9, 2013


Such a sad loss :(

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posted by Foci for Analysis at 9:55 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by X-Himy at 9:56 AM on June 9, 2013


Here is a drawing of the ROU The Infuriating Fragility Of Life In A Pre-Contact Civilisation.

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posted by egypturnash at 9:56 AM on June 9, 2013 [19 favorites]


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posted by graymouser at 9:57 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by HandfulOfDust at 10:02 AM on June 9, 2013


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and fuck cancer
posted by DreamerFi at 10:03 AM on June 9, 2013


An enormous

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Thank you for your words, your wit and your wisdom, Mr. Banks. Like others, I hope your family finds a bit of comfort in knowing so many of us will miss you even though we only knew you through your amazing books.

I really wasn't ready for this Inevitable Tragic Loss.
posted by vers at 10:04 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by jiroczech at 10:05 AM on June 9, 2013


RIP. I remember being late on some assignments during my college summer session in Glasgow because I'd been introduced to an amazing author in my short fiction class and ended up sitting around in the Glasgow Borders reading all of his books. Brought about 6 Orbit editions back home to the states with me.

A captivating writer with great wit... I'll always remember how he was able to make such a utopian future so dark.
posted by selfnoise at 10:05 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by Brody's chum at 10:07 AM on June 9, 2013


Geez, I even made a Culture reference in a comment last night. My favorite author. Fuck cancer.

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posted by Purposeful Grimace at 10:08 AM on June 9, 2013


I only discovered the Culture novels less than a year ago. Dammit.

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posted by mrbill at 10:10 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by cstross at 10:13 AM on June 9, 2013


Aw, dammit.
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posted by Fibognocchi at 10:13 AM on June 9, 2013


“I could try composing wonderful musical works, or day-long entertainment epics, but what would that do? Give people pleasure? My wiping this table gives me pleasure. And people come to a clean table, which gives them pleasure. And anyway" - the man laughed - "people die; stars die; universes die. What is any achievement, however great it was, once time itself is dead? Of course, if all I did was wipe tables, then of course it would seem a mean and despicable waste of my huge intellectual potential. But because I choose to do it, it gives me pleasure. And," the man said with a smile, "it's a good way of meeting people. So where are you from, anyway?”

Iain M. Banks, Use of Weapons
posted by sarastro at 10:15 AM on June 9, 2013 [18 favorites]


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posted by sebastienbailard at 10:15 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by sporkwort at 10:16 AM on June 9, 2013


This is hard to take after the recent loss of Jack Vance. I might have to reread Against a Dark Background which seems like his most Vancean work.

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posted by wobh at 10:18 AM on June 9, 2013


Here is his appearance on Desert Island Discs, Sunday 24th August 1997.
posted by knapah at 10:19 AM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have been dithering mightily over which Culture book to read next. I started with Consider Phlebas, then read Matter, and finished Player of Games a week or so ago. Please memail me your advice and opinions, and thank you. (I know there doesn't have to be An Order in Which to Read Them, though I am saving Hydrogen Sonata for last, so I guess I'm looking for...well, I'm not sure, exactly. But perhaps you know what I mean anyway.)
posted by rtha at 10:21 AM on June 9, 2013


I am ashamed to admit this is the first time I've heard of him but I definitely want to read some of his books. Where should I start?
posted by MaryDellamorte at 10:21 AM on June 9, 2013


A poem for you:

Iain M. Banks is dead.
Fuck this day,
I'm going back to bed.
posted by sarastro at 10:22 AM on June 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Iain Banks drives a F1 car (CAR magazine, June 2000)

I always liked the photo on the 4th double page
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:22 AM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


don't be human eric, let's be frank.

shit day.

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posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar at 10:26 AM on June 9, 2013


I'm halfway through Hydrogen Sonata and honestly have been struggling with it a bit, likely because of the ever-present thought of Bank's life and death in the back of my head. I think I will put it down for a while.

.. (really sad)
posted by Cosine at 10:28 AM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by disclaimer at 10:29 AM on June 9, 2013


The world has lost an incredible person, and I am in tears.
posted by Sternmeyer at 10:30 AM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


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posted by mygothlaundry at 10:32 AM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by QueerAngel28 at 10:33 AM on June 9, 2013


MSV Fuck Cancer
posted by Cosine at 10:33 AM on June 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


The man deserved more than my white dot on the blue. The page is all white in my head.
posted by kariebookish at 10:34 AM on June 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


The Guardian's obituary
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:35 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by AaronTheBaron at 10:36 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by detachd at 10:37 AM on June 9, 2013


I am ashamed to admit this is the first time I've heard of him but I definitely want to read some of his books. Where should I start?

Consider Phlebas is the first of his Culture novels, while The Player of Games is the most accessible; read Use of Weapons after these two, then Excession and the newer Culture novels (Matter, Surface Detail, Hydrogen Sonata) afterwards.

Standalone science fiction is Against a Dark Background, which I personally found one of more difficult of his novels, Inversions and The Algebraist. Transitions was published as an Iain Banks novel but is also science fiction.

Of his mainstream work, The Crow Road with immortal opening line "It was the day my grandmother exploded", is the most humane of his novels. Complicity is a slightly sadistic thriller, written partially in the second person. Espedair Street and The Steep Approach to Garbadale are similar novels to the Crow Road.

The Wasp Factory is not to everybody's tastes. Dead Air, Canal Dreams and A Song of Stone are lesser novels; the first was very much influenced by 9/11.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:37 AM on June 9, 2013 [46 favorites]


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posted by Slithy_Tove at 10:38 AM on June 9, 2013


About six months ago I realised there were three Culture books I still hadn't got round to reading and went through all of them in one go. It was sort of like being 15 again and discovering him for the first time and finding out how good he was. Now there will be no more.

(The drone dips its casing forward in imitation of a bowed head, its aura field darkening to the deep grey of sadness banded by the dull gold of resignation.)
posted by permafrost at 10:39 AM on June 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


He's away the Crow Road then. Awesome writer, and a decent chap by all accounts.

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posted by Sk4n at 10:40 AM on June 9, 2013


Nick Harkaway writes: So long, IMB, I never knew ye.
posted by Fizz at 10:40 AM on June 9, 2013


The Culture is where I wanted to go when I grew up. He is sorely missed already.

When Douglas Adams died, fans showed their respect with Towel Day. Need to first create drones, then have Drone Day.

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posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:41 AM on June 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


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posted by Rabarberofficer at 10:41 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by YAMWAK at 10:42 AM on June 9, 2013


Laphroiag would probably be most appropriate, for those wishing to narrow it down. Not to everyone's taste though so substitute if necessary.

It's been a while since I last read Raw Spirit but the man had a deep affection for Macallan. I'll be having one for him tonight.

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posted by N-stoff at 10:44 AM on June 9, 2013


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Damn. My favorite writer. He'll be missed.
posted by dazed_one at 10:44 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by homunculus at 10:44 AM on June 9, 2013


Consider Phlebas is a vivid and sprawling space opera and a great introduction to the Culture universe, but it's unusual in offering you no insight into the inner life of its main protagonist, giving it something of a flat affect, tonally. A remarkable quality of the series is that no two of them are really written in the same way. He never indulged in formula; as if his interesting, busy, constantly growing mind simply couldn't allow that. If you're looking for a life lesson, maybe it's that we don't have time to waste doing the same thing twice, let alone over and over again.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:49 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by poe at 10:50 AM on June 9, 2013


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Damnit.
posted by eyeballkid at 10:50 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by foleypt at 10:50 AM on June 9, 2013


Laphroiag would probably be most appropriate,

No Laphroiag for me, sadly, but the next best thing: the Rasputin Laphroaig BA, which is just as peaty as the original.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:51 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by Justinian at 10:52 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by liet at 10:52 AM on June 9, 2013


I keep coming back to this thread with out posting because I didn't want to

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posted by bswinburn at 10:56 AM on June 9, 2013


Gutted.

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posted by ursus_comiter at 10:59 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by dr. moot at 11:00 AM on June 9, 2013


I've known for a while that this news would come, but still - ugh. Punch in the gut. It's too soon, it's way too soon. :(

Goodbye, Iain Banks. I miss you already.
posted by Caconym at 11:01 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by Fence at 11:02 AM on June 9, 2013


There's very few occasions where reading the Culture books out of order would be a problem - you should probably read Consider Phlebas before Look To Windward, which is a rough sequel to it, and Matter, Surface Details and The Hydrogen Sonatra seem to be a re-examination of some of the themes set up in Use of Weapons and Player of Games, with the odd call back, but that's about it.

I'd actually suggest starting with Use of Weapons or Player of Games over Consider Phlebas as, though it has it's moments, it's a bit sprawling and unfocused. That said the whole sequence in the command complex is amazing, and very very bleak.
posted by Artw at 11:02 AM on June 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


And I would of course suggest you check out his non-Culture SF, his non-SF, and that one non-SF book that has the Culture in it.
posted by Artw at 11:07 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by mumkin at 11:08 AM on June 9, 2013


The Glenfiddich 21-year old Havana Reserve was his perfect dram, but I don't have any of that in the house at the moment, and it's not the same animal these days either. I bought a bottle of Glenfarclas yesterday, and since he was very complimentary about it in Raw Spirit, I can (not so) happily crack it open and have a dram or five in his memory.
posted by daveje at 11:09 AM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by oonh at 11:10 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by jepler at 11:14 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by dragstroke at 11:15 AM on June 9, 2013


Of all his books I've read, I loved The Algebraist the most. He was an incredible author.
posted by who squared at 11:17 AM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'll miss his books and his voice. I read The Player Of Games at an impressionable age, and found his worldview resonating strongly with, and helping shape and refine, my own.

I see the Culture as in some ways the ultimate expression of a bright, angry, atheist young man's fury at the unfairness and bleakness of things. For all the Culture's faults - and they are many - fairness and free-wheeling hedonism are built into that society's DNA, along with a steely, cold resolve to Not Be Fucked With by anything or anyone that compromises those values.

For people who've read most of his Culture books, who are watching Game Of Thrones, but haven't read Inversions, I'm going to suggest it as an interesting palate cleanser, dealing as it does with a people at the level of development of Westeros, with a similarly brutally unfair and intrigue-filled society, and he compares and contrasts the two approaches to a society nicely through the two main characters.

A lot of his Culture books do this, of course, but Inversions is particularly notable for a good part of the context of the book being the echoes of his other books - I have no idea how it would work as a standalone.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 11:18 AM on June 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


Transitions was published as an Iain Banks novel but is also science fiction.

Transitions was published as an Iain M. Banks book in the US. Which is I think, appropriate.

After inhaling The Wasp Factory in my first year of university, I've spent most of my adult life looking forward to the next one. I can't think of another author I clicked with so completely.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 11:19 AM on June 9, 2013


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A genuine inspiration. I was lucky enough to ask him a question about utopias at an literary event. I loved the fact that he could imagine a future that was hopeful, a place we would want to live. Also, my first domain name (bought when I was a teenager) was named after a particular Orbital...
posted by adrianhon at 11:19 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by MuffinMan at 11:20 AM on June 9, 2013


I love Inversions - to me it and Excession are must reads that you probably want to check out at least one other culture book before.
posted by Artw at 11:20 AM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by Sphinx at 11:21 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by Schadenfreudian at 11:21 AM on June 9, 2013


I just can't express the full extent of my sorrow at his passing. A dot seems a small memorial, but this is all I have:

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posted by SPrintF at 11:24 AM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


. for him, and a small wince at losing yet another artist who brought me much joy.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:31 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by New England Cultist at 11:42 AM on June 9, 2013


Well, damn it. Knew it was coming but it's still hard to hear the news.
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:42 AM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I read of Iain Banks' cancer diagnosis, I never wished harder for someone to magically recover, except in the cases of family and friends.

I remember visiting a friend in London in the early 90s. He was busy in school most of the day, so I'd wander around the city, spending a good deal of time on the Tube. One time there was a menacing-looking man sitting across from me, drinking a tallboy inside a paper bag. No, he didn't rough me up. He was too busy reading a Banks novel (The Bridge, I believe).

I hightailed it to a used bookshop and tracked down this book. And so began a great obsession.
posted by medeine at 11:44 AM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


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posted by TheophileEscargot at 11:50 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by blurker at 11:50 AM on June 9, 2013


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My copy of The Algebraist is marked at that its bleakest point, the point where there is only death, as the turning of that page marked a death in my private life, and it's been sitting on my nightstand, neglected, since.

I think for Ian, I shall pick it up again.
posted by Jilder at 11:51 AM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


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posted by Renoroc at 11:52 AM on June 9, 2013


Fucking hell.

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posted by Mistress at 11:56 AM on June 9, 2013


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posted by St. Sorryass at 12:01 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by col_pogo at 12:03 PM on June 9, 2013


Days like this, I appreciate metafilter more than most people would understand. It's helpful to know that I'm not the only one torn up over a man I've never met passing from this world.

Thank you Mister Banks. You are missed.

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posted by envygreen at 12:04 PM on June 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


The Telegraph obit
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:04 PM on June 9, 2013


In terms of reading order, there is a line at the end of Surface Detail that is meaningless if you've not read Use of Weapons - and which will poleaxe you if you have.
posted by Major Clanger at 12:06 PM on June 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


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posted by mfoight at 12:11 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by gergtreble at 12:15 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by MelanieL at 12:16 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by dopeypanda at 12:18 PM on June 9, 2013


All of you realize he was the one SC agent left here to monitor us; having done his job, he's just gone home. I refuse to believe anything else.
posted by digitalprimate at 12:19 PM on June 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Well, shit.

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posted by Mojojojo at 12:22 PM on June 9, 2013


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I'll definitely be sipping a single malt in his honor tonight. Too damned soon.
posted by Zonker at 12:23 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by Unicorn on the cob at 12:25 PM on June 9, 2013


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Way too damned soon.
posted by soundguy99 at 12:27 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by dual_action at 12:29 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by no relation at 12:30 PM on June 9, 2013


I just finished reading the novella State of the Art. And this paragraph is stuck in my head:

The ship had brought Linter's body back up, displacing it from its freezer in a New York City morgue. But when we left, Linter stayed, in a fashion. I argued he ought to be buried on-planet, but the ship disagreed. Linter's last instructions regarding the disposal of his remains had been issued fifteen years earlier, when he first joined Contact, and were quite conventional; his corpse was to be displaced into the centre of the nearest star. So the sun gained a bodyweight, courtesy of Culture tradition, and in a million years, maybe, a little of the light from Linter's body would shine upon the planet he had loved.

I do hope against all rationality that there is a GCU up there and it will indeed shoot Iain into the sun. R.I.P. you glorious bastard. I'll have a dram tonight in your honor.
posted by Ber at 12:31 PM on June 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Shoot.

Just last night, I was looking for something to read and for some reason Consider Phlebas came to mind, even though I never reread books. But then I thought no, no, save that up for when he dies -- and then I immediately thought, that's a terrible, macabre idea, I'll start reading it tomorrow.
posted by chortly at 12:34 PM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


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posted by juv3nal at 12:34 PM on June 9, 2013




I love Inversions - to me it and Excession are must reads that you probably want to check out at least one other culture book before.

I agree. I read The Bridge, The Crow Road, and Against a Dark Background first of all. It wasn't until I read Excession that Banks really clicked for me. Somehow the rhythm of that book, the dry humor of the minds, just rotated all the right gears into place. When I went back and re-read the first books of his, I enjoyed them much more. The three I've re-read the most often are Inversions, Look to Windward, and Feersum Ennjin (which is really underrated, IMO). I love how often castles and towers play significant roles in his books, particularly the things they are made of and the way they give glimpses of the civilizations that came before; and how they protect, or fail to protect, the people in them; and the way they decay. The castle in Walking on Glass is my favorite castle of Banks', and that book is worth reading just for that storyline.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:34 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by Mooski at 12:37 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by jlbartosa at 12:42 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by newdaddy at 12:43 PM on June 9, 2013


From that Telegraph obit: The boy’s principal childhood interests were television, reading science fiction, and producing homemade explosives from sugar and weedkiller.
posted by localroger at 12:46 PM on June 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


The GSV Banking on Posterity has suffered true death, with no surviving Mind states.

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posted by Slackermagee at 12:46 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by LeRoienJaune at 12:55 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by Mister Bijou at 12:58 PM on June 9, 2013


ah, dammitall. Obviously we knew it was coming, but I was so hoping he'd get another six months or a year.

Thanks for the books. I look forward to the ones I haven't read yet, and to rereading most of the ones I have.
posted by Zed at 12:59 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by LucretiusJones at 1:00 PM on June 9, 2013


.

When I heard of his illness, I started re-reading everything. I'm in the midst of Feersum Endjinn, which I'd missed the first time thru.

Dammit.
posted by Farce_First at 1:02 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by joeycoleman at 1:02 PM on June 9, 2013


I both fervently hope and confidently expect that his estate will never license Culture novels to be written by anyone else. But a single short story collection by hand-selected writers he knew well, with the proceeds going to either (obviously) cancer research or some other cause he supported might be a fine thing.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:09 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by Halloween Jack at 1:11 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by Ripper Minnieton at 1:19 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by helion at 1:24 PM on June 9, 2013


RIP. My commute used to take me over the Forth Bridge and past the small village of North Queensferry where Banks lived at the the start and end of his life. The rail bridge, that he could see out of his bedroom window as a kid, became a template for the novel "The Bridge". I was always amazed by the quantity and breadth of the ideas from just one writer.
posted by rongorongo at 1:28 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by Sebmojo at 1:31 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:42 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by cjorgensen at 1:45 PM on June 9, 2013


Oh damn. Far too young.

.

Gall bladder cancer is the one that I possibly had last summer. After reading Google I knew that if the tumour was cancerous, I would have very little time left, that I'd be basically lucky to see Christmas. It's a bad, bad disease. I may now be missing my gall bladder and a decent-sized piece of my liver, but I was lucky.
posted by jokeefe at 1:48 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


if anyone wants to join in Ian Rankin ( @Beathhigh ) , another of our writers, is currently retweeting peoples pictures of their whiskys with a novel.
posted by stuartmm at 1:49 PM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


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posted by PippinJack at 1:51 PM on June 9, 2013


Wow. Him and my mom on the same day. Good thing that where I am, it's already the next day.
posted by ambient2 at 1:51 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by monkey closet at 1:55 PM on June 9, 2013


The Culture novels have played a role in shaping my political views. It's sad whenever I see people arguing about how to restrict access to limited resources, instead of finding ways to provide enough for everyone. It seems that many of our political problems are rooted in a "scarcity" mindset.

I'm sad for the passing of a man who was so adept at weaving these ideas into such engaging tales.

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posted by rustcrumb at 1:56 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by srt19170 at 1:57 PM on June 9, 2013


I've woken up just about every morning for the last couple of months with him on my mind.

My favorite favorite, been reading him since The Wasp Factory back in nineteen eightycoughcoughcough (I'd have read his shopping list if he published it). He changed my life, I met my husband because of him, I have all kinds of friends around the world because of him.

He leaves a hell of a legacy, along with a big empty hole. Fuck.
posted by biscotti at 1:57 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Expected but sad still.

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posted by monocultured at 1:58 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by titus-g at 1:59 PM on June 9, 2013


I don't have any words. Just tears.
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.

This was, of course,—
posted by winna at 2:00 PM on June 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


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posted by Vicarious at 2:04 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 2:04 PM on June 9, 2013


I am glad it was relatively quick for him and not drawn out, but upset it happened at all.

I love The Crow Road with all my heart, though I know it is not War and Peace. Thanks for the words, Iain. I'll have a wee dram for you.
posted by Kafkaesque at 2:12 PM on June 9, 2013


The Wasp Factory is not to everybody's tastes. Dead Air, Canal Dreams and A Song of Stone are lesser novels; the first was very much influenced by 9/11.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:37 PM on June 9


I dispute this. Dead Air is a hell of a page-turner and struck me as a real return to form after a couple of phone-ins. A Song of Stone is a masterful exercise in unrelenting bleakness and despair. Canal Dreams is... okay, yeah, that one was poor. And Banks himself admitted it.
posted by Decani at 2:18 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wanting to say more than my earlier '.'

I have a few authors who battle it out in my brain for the spot of 'favourite', but amongst those Banks was always unquestionably the most brilliant wordsmith, the one who wrote the most complex and deep and powerful books. He was the unquestionable literary giant amongst the authors I love.

I'm pretty sure the other authors I love would agree even more strongly.
posted by edd at 2:19 PM on June 9, 2013


Decani: Finally a shout out for A Song of Stone, actually my favourite of his non-Culture novel.
posted by Cosine at 2:20 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


A Song of Stone kicks the shit out of, say, The Road. It's got punctuation for a start...
posted by Artw at 2:22 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


For me, Banks's weakest novels are Canal Dreams, Whit, The Business and The Steep Approach to Garbadale. The rest are all at least good. Complicity and The Crow Road are staggeringly good.
posted by Decani at 2:23 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Whit and The Steep Approach are basically Crow Road reruns - which is nice enough and they pass the time but they're not as good.
posted by Artw at 2:25 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm raising this glass of 15 year old Dalwhinnie in thanks, but I know it won't taste as good as it normally does, this time.

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posted by Chichibio at 3:03 PM on June 9, 2013


Whit and The Steep Approach are basically Crow Road reruns - which is nice enough and they pass the time but they're not as good.

I've just started re-reading the Crow Road tonight - clearly the most appropriate book to revisit. I don't see the connection with Whit, to be honest, but the Steep Approach is obviously a close relative, as is Stonemouth. There's the idealisation of a particular kind of small Scottish town, combined with a bildungsroman, which they all have in common. And for an expatriate Scot like myself, they're wonderfully evocative, even though my own small town wasn't quite as charming.

It's striking that Banks' fallow period was reflected solely in his mainstream novels. There isn't a single weak book in his SF output.
posted by daveje at 3:04 PM on June 9, 2013


My copy of The Algebraist is marked at that its bleakest point,

I trust it's not too much of a spoiler here, but things start to look up after a certain point there. The Algebraist is my favourite.

For starters read in rough order, I think now. I started with The Wasp Factory back in a distant times, I loved it, but not to all tastes.

Consider Phlebas, though it has it's moments, it's a bit sprawling and unfocused.


He sets up loose plotting with a sympathetic protagonist on the wrong side, and then pulls it off, and also virtually re-inventing the genre of Space-Opera in the process. Respects..
posted by ovvl at 3:11 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by dlugoczaj at 3:12 PM on June 9, 2013


I'll buy The Quarry as soon as it comes out but I'm pretty sure I won't be reading it straight away... I'm still mired down in the Game of Thrones series, but like there's one David Lynch film I've not watched yet because then I'll have no more of them to see, it's gonna be a total bastard to not have any more new Banks to read.

I've got a bit stack of stuff I've got to / want to read in the near future for Reasons but when that's done I'm going to start on the big re-read that I've been planning for a while. I've read some of the early books multiple times already but I've only read everything post and including The Business once. That's possibly/probably because I thought The Business to be somewhat weak compared to his earlier stuff (bar Canal Dreams which didn't really work) and didn't really fancy going back to it - same with the following non-M novels. But the SF always held up.

I actually quite rate Song Of Stone - probably one of his most literary novels. I look forward to re-reading it with the fairly recently gained knowledge that the four main 'characters' represent the four elements (The narrator = Water, His sister = Air, The Lieutenant = Fire and the castle itself = Earth)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:12 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by drklahn at 3:12 PM on June 9, 2013


Iain Banks Interview at Odyssey 2010

"This is an interview with Iain M. Banks conducted by Jane Killick at Odyssey, the 2010 Eastercon which was held at the Radisson Edwardian Heathrow, London over the 2010 Easter weekend.
This video wasn't previously available but has been put up as a tribute to Iain."
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:15 PM on June 9, 2013


There isn't a single weak book in his SF output.
posted by daveje at 11:04 PM on June 9 [+] [!]


I would question Feersum Endjinn. Also (and I know I'm in a huge minority here) he started to lose me with Excession, because I simply could not get past the extent to which the core conceit was essentially ripped off 2001. Truth is, I rate his non-SF novels as being superior to his SF ones. The bar is simply at a higher level, for me. His SF is good but... well, it just strikes me as a bit too much of a self-indulgence. He's indulging his inner geek. Consider Phlebas was far and away the best, for me, because it didn't stray too far from what makes his non-SF books so wonderful. Once he got a bit too exercised by all that future-tech and amusing spaceship names stuff I felt he was squandering his talent at least a little bit. I have read every single thing he's released in the non-M category as soon as it's come out. I haven't done that with the SF.
posted by Decani at 3:17 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by tychotesla at 3:19 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by Jimbob at 3:20 PM on June 9, 2013


It was The Wasp Factory that I started out with and carried on from that point onwards with each successive Iain Banks book. At some stage (for whatever reason) I wandered off and wasn't quite so keen to read every release.

I was later unconvinced by the news that he was embarking on science fiction titles, because I'd lost interest in science fiction books in general some years prior. I'm not even sure when or how I was convinced to pick up Consider Phlebas, but that book took a grip on me that refused to let go. It's the ideas, the concepts and the sheer thrills that come across.

Surface Detail and The Hydrogen Sonata are the two Culture novels I've yet to read. Knowing that they're the final Culture novels is going to make them a tough read. But I'm going to enjoy every page of them.
posted by panboi at 3:28 PM on June 9, 2013


panboi, I've been postponing The Hydrogen Sonata as well. But I can tell you that Surface Detail is a feast. Several people above have characterized it as this or that (and there's a spoiler up there, but if you didn't manage to avoid it don't worry, there's a Superlifter cargo of other awesomeness). Ignore them and just settle in, it's one of those novels that you get to the end and you turn right back to page one and read it again.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:40 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


He looked up at the stars, and the view was warped and distorted by something in his eyes, which at first he thought was rain.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:44 PM on June 9, 2013 [15 favorites]


.

I wish I had better words to mark this with
posted by arha at 3:54 PM on June 9, 2013


I had only just started in on his works... for many the good word that MeFites had to share.

May he know peace for crossing the divide.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 3:57 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by HastyDave at 4:07 PM on June 9, 2013


This is hitting a lot harder than I expected.

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posted by mikurski at 4:09 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was going to watch the first episode of Crow Road again but I'm too knackered for that... just have a quite nightcap and muse on my memories of reading Iain...

Buying The Wasp Factory in WH Smiths (with that amazing cover) after reading the review in Imagine magazine and reading the first page sat in the local library. The first signings I went to. Reading a bit of Consider Phlebas by candle light during a power cut. Reading Complicity in one sitting when I was between jobs. Meeting Iain at an Eastercon and having a brief conversation with him. Having a trip up to Scotland to visit some of the places mentioned in the books including The Bridge. Reading the start of Excession on a train back from an interview in London after buying it in Forbidden Planet when I switched from reading him in (mostly) paperback to always hardback (I didn't get the job). When I was working in London buying Inversions one dark night from a tiny branch of Waterstone's just before it closed on the day it out. Going to a signing in a distant town on my birthday one year, because birthday! Banks! Seeing him speak at the Edinburgh lit fest one year when someone asked the most amazing question I've ever heard at a reading Q&A ('I've not read any of your books, and I came to this by mistake... which should I read first?'). Being in the audience when he appeared on The World Service and afterwards being able to finally confirm why a certain character said a certain thing in one of his novels. And the final signing I went to when I asked a really lame question, 'oh well I thought, there's always next time...' Iain was very gracious about it... Later whilst he signed my book the final words I had with him were about Civilisation. Many many happy, thrilling, funny, shocking and inspiring hours reading (and he was definitely a major inspiration to write some stuff myself) plus sundry friends make and drunken nights spent discussing his writing.

Sláinte Iain.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:18 PM on June 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


My copy of The Wasp Factory has three pages of review excerpts inside the front cover. More than half of them are full-on excoriations from deeply offended critics. I love that.

I read Against A Dark Background in its entirety on a long train ride that passed through several countries. It's probably just as well that it wasn't The Bridge, I think that would have messed me up for life.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:21 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


FUCK.
posted by signal at 4:32 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I just finished Espedair Street last night.

Fuck.

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posted by odinsdream at 4:50 PM on June 9, 2013


I rather liked Feersum Endjinn. I had found Excession in the library and rather liked it and Feersum Endjinn was the next Banks book in the section that didn't look like some old pulp SF novel. Giant arcology (I'm a big fan of Paolo Soleri) with wars and trains and towers so high the air is rarefied. Minds in computers and a talking ant. What's not to love?
posted by zengargoyle at 4:52 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


For several years, I dreamed of getting Mr. Banks as a guest of honor at my favorite local SF con. No chance, because he'd ripped up his passport and forsworn coming to the US by that point. I held out small hope, but mostly I just respected him even more than before.

Sad we won't get that sequel to Against a Dark Background. Glad for the work, compassion and joy he left behind.

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posted by jiawen at 4:56 PM on June 9, 2013


ovvl: I've read it a few times. It's a favourite of mine. I will read it again because I know that it will get better.
posted by Jilder at 4:56 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by so_ at 5:05 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:08 PM on June 9, 2013


I started The Hydrogen Sonata and then put it down intending to return to it. Now I don't know if I can finish it. If I finish it, there will be no more new Culture books to read. Ever.

That's something that I cannot face right now.

I my favorites of his are The Bridge and The Algebraist. The Bridge is just brilliant. The Algebraist was a truly fantastic attempt to create a hard scifi universe with FTL travel. It succeeded at almost every level, not just that one.

Going to have a dram of Laphroiag tonight.

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posted by Hactar at 5:10 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by misfish at 5:16 PM on June 9, 2013


Heartbreaking. :( His work was brilliant.

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posted by zarq at 5:19 PM on June 9, 2013


One of my favourites. :(

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posted by bigZLiLk at 5:20 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by Cash4Lead at 5:35 PM on June 9, 2013


I'm not okay with this.
posted by Sokka shot first at 5:53 PM on June 9, 2013


Eideteker learned I hadn't read Banks, and was kind enough to start me off with Consider Phlebas and Player of Games. I'm lucky to have much more fiction and science fiction to read by this excellent writer. I admire the way Banks publicized his sad news, and wrapped up his affairs for the inevitable almost as much as I admire his writing. Fuck you cancer, you thief.

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posted by theora55 at 5:56 PM on June 9, 2013


He was one of the few who asked us to look up at the stars and see not an immensely terrifying vacuum but a vast ocean of possibilites, challenged us to contemplate a future where kindness could defeat cruelty and hope could defeat cynicism, and said with every word he wrote that while humanity is assuredly capable of realizing the bleakest of nightmares, we had the presence of mind and strength of resolve to work together to fulfill our brightest and most brilliant dreams.

That's what I get out of Banks.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:16 PM on June 9, 2013 [14 favorites]


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posted by sarahw at 6:23 PM on June 9, 2013


.... I don't know if it's true though, and a little child inside me is curled up and shaking with the thought that his leaving us so early was some kind of indictment.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:27 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by redbeard at 6:57 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by LN at 7:01 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by Proofs and Refutations at 7:24 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by nonspecialist at 7:31 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by Shutter at 7:38 PM on June 9, 2013


After the April announcement, I went ahead and read Surface Detail for the first time (I'd been saving it for some reason), then went back and started re-reading the Culture novels one by one. Phlebas, Player of Games, Use of Weapons - now I have to decide whether to re-read the non-Culture novels too, or to save them. And when I'm done, a few months from now, I have the Hydrogen Sonata to look forward to / dread reading. I can't believe that's the end of the line.

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posted by RedOrGreen at 7:59 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 7:59 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by ElDiabloConQueso at 8:09 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by eruonna at 8:13 PM on June 9, 2013


.

One of my favorite authors of all time. When I finished reading the Hydrogen Sonata shortly after it came out, I remember reflecting on how the worst thing about finishing the newest Culture novel was that there would be a few years' wait for the next one. Hearing that he had been diagnosed with cancer made my heart sink. No more Banks, with or without the M? What kind of world would that be?

I wanted to make some sort of comment about wishing the neural lace existed so that he could just restore from backup in a healthy new cancer-free body... except that I realized that in a way he already did have one. He laced himself through every page of every one of his books. A trite observation, perhaps, but it did bring me some small comfort on a sad day.
posted by Aster at 8:34 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


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Found out about him when my sister started traveling a lot to Scotland. Will miss him.
posted by LeLiLo at 8:35 PM on June 9, 2013


It's wierd, just this afternoon I was thinking about Banks and wondering how he was doing - I just called by MeFightClub and read over there that he had passed away.

I do have something of a soft spot for Canal Dreams, having been the first Banks book that I read (I borrowed it from my brother, as I recall), but The Crow Road and Use of Weapons remain among my all-time favourite books, full stop.

I'm not a huge whisky drinker, personally, but it was Raw Spirit that made me consider opening my mind and tastes to a new experience (and give me the idea that, at some point, I'd love to go hooning around Scotland in a fun car - the whisky would be a side plus).

As with many others, I've not read Hydrogen Sonata yet, and likewise right now I'm not sure I want to.

The last of the Culture novels. Maybe the first step, the first idea for mankind in making something better.

Goodbye, Mr Banks.
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 8:37 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by DingoMutt at 9:24 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by drnick at 9:49 PM on June 9, 2013


I just finished Use of Weapons today. I was at the last two chapters when I read the news on Twitter.

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posted by RakDaddy at 9:55 PM on June 9, 2013


Right around the births of my two children, I went on Iain Banks reading binges, mostly Culture novels. As a result, I have a hazy, wondrous feeling about him and his writing. I imagine his books are really great for rereading, but I think for me it would be completely different experience the second time around; the mist of new parenthood and his worlds go together very well.
posted by naturesgreatestmiracle at 10:01 PM on June 9, 2013


Went out for lunch. Stopped at the bookstore while I was out to pick up new copies of "Use of Weapons" and "Against a Dark Background" because those were the ones that hooked me. And his book on whiskey too.

Started reading UoW. Soon I had a pen handy, writing little notes about the subtle tricks Banks is pulling from the very start to support the crazy structure of the book. And then when I was about done with the first part, I stopped, pulled out my sketchbook, and laid a ton of groundwork for the similar flashback games I'll be playing in the last part of my graphic novel.

Thanks, Iain.
posted by egypturnash at 10:04 PM on June 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


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posted by anadem at 10:10 PM on June 9, 2013


Well, all I can say is I am glad he apparently didn't suffer much.

I can also say...

Awwwwwwww, fuck.

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posted by Samizdata at 10:29 PM on June 9, 2013


Bugger.

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posted by Athanassiel at 11:02 PM on June 9, 2013


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posted by mikw at 11:08 PM on June 9, 2013


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All my favourite artists seem to be shuffling off their mortal coils this year.
posted by LMGM at 11:20 PM on June 9, 2013


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FUCK.
posted by flippant at 11:26 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


/Boozed. It is required.
posted by Artw at 11:33 PM on June 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by wrm at 12:25 AM on June 10, 2013


Read this today morning. Still feel sad.

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posted by the cydonian at 1:07 AM on June 10, 2013


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posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:22 AM on June 10, 2013


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posted by axon at 3:03 AM on June 10, 2013


He only had a few months from the time he announced that it was terminal (although I don't know how long before he went public that he knew) until today. In that thread, I hoped that he would be able to enjoy the time he had left.

I hope in this thread that he did.

I'm really deeply sad that I won't get to read any more of his books. I discovered them late, but I loved them a lot. But it's not about me, of course. All good thoughts to his family and friends, who lost the man, not just the author.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:28 AM on June 10, 2013


Also, scotch now and for the night, each one for him. Thanks for the stories, brother.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:29 AM on June 10, 2013


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posted by MeatheadBrokeMyChair at 3:45 AM on June 10, 2013


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posted by debagel at 3:59 AM on June 10, 2013


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posted by ersatz at 4:17 AM on June 10, 2013


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posted by condour75 at 5:05 AM on June 10, 2013


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posted by mean cheez at 5:13 AM on June 10, 2013


This is really really sad. The Crow Road and The Wasp Factory were instrumental in turning me into a reader. I can't think of another author whose novels are all so different from one another.

Thank you all for posting. It's very moving that an author from my little corner of the world touched so many lives.
posted by neilb449 at 5:28 AM on June 10, 2013


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Count me among those who'd wished him more time than this after the beak diagnosis.

Very sad news. I finished up the Ardbeg I had on hand earlier in the year during cancer-related difficulties in my own family, but there's an unopened Bowmore in the cupboard I can pour a dram from this evening. RIP to a writer whom I (perhaps foolishly/fannishly) felt I had come to know just via the pages of his fine novels.
posted by aught at 5:29 AM on June 10, 2013


I would question Feersum Endjinn.

You must be kidding!

I haven't done that with the SF.

Your loss. I mean that seriously and not snarkily.
posted by aught at 5:34 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by bouvin at 5:38 AM on June 10, 2013


The @cultureshipnames tribute.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:49 AM on June 10, 2013


Neil Gaiman: Iain Banks. With or without the M.
(A true story: In 1987 I was at a small party at the Brighton WorldCon in the wee hours, at which it was discovered that some jewellery belonging to the sleeping owner of the suite had been stolen. The police were called. A few minutes after the police arrived, so did Iain, on the balcony of the Metropole hotel: he'd been climbing the building from the outside. The police had to be persuaded that this was a respectable author who liked climbing things from the outside and not an inept cat burglar returning to the scene of his crime.)
Charlie Stross: "Fuck every cause that ends in murder and children crying" — Iain Banks, 1954-2013
I can't really claim to be a friend; my relationship with Iain was somewhere between one of the faceless hordes seen at SF conventions, and "guy I run into at the pub occasionally". However, I've known Iain and chatted with him at times since, I think, 1989 or 1990 or thereabouts. And, after getting over my initial awe of the giant of letters, subsequently discovered that he was a giant in other ways: big-hearted, kind, affable, humorous, angry at injustice.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:10 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Been holding off reading The Hydrogen Sonata, but will begin now with a glass of Islay on the side. I'm a little surprised to see the love for The Algebraist, which I've always considered the weakest of the Culture books (though it does feature The Beyonders, the best alien race ever, even including The Affront), but I see that it was short listed for a Hugo, so I guess there must be something else there. Of course, given his standard, it's still a good book.

I enjoyed Feersum Ennjin, though I have not reread it. I remember finding it amusing that one of the few words actually spelled correctly rather than phonetically in that book was lammergeier, presumably because if Banks had not written it out, no one would have known what it was.
posted by bouvin at 6:52 AM on June 10, 2013


I'm a little surprised to see the love for The Algebraist, which I've always considered the weakest of the Culture books

It's not a Culture book, FYI. Personally I did find it to be my least favourite of his SF books though.

posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:23 AM on June 10, 2013


Against A Dark Background almost certainly being the best of those. I did like The Algebraist though - it was very actiony.
posted by Artw at 7:39 AM on June 10, 2013


EndsOfInvention:
It's not a Culture book, FYI. Personally I did find it to be my least favourite of his SF books though.
You are, of course, quite right. I meant SF, but wrote Culture. Another vote for Against a Dark Background btw, which was delightfully bleak.
posted by bouvin at 7:50 AM on June 10, 2013


People upthread has mentioned that Banks has written one of the few utopias people would actually like to live in, and I consider that one of his greatest feats. The Culture is a rich civilization, happy and free from material want, but Banks nevertheless managed to make it sound interesting. Most utopias are dull as dishwater, but Banks conjured up something that seemed alive, something that seemed believable (major technological advancements notwithstanding).

He will be missed both for his rich imagination, his writing ability, his message and if his friends are any indication, as a great human being.

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posted by Harald74 at 7:53 AM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


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posted by BibiRose at 7:58 AM on June 10, 2013


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posted by Wretch729 at 8:25 AM on June 10, 2013


I'm a little surprised to see the love for The Algebraist, which I've always considered the weakest of the Culture books

The Algebraist was my entry point for Banks; I'd heard the name a lot (a great deal actually, since joining here). So when I saw it at the library and had nothing else to read, I grabbed it. And then I went to find Consider Phelbas and Look to Windward and so on. In short, nothing wrong with it and it will always be special to me as that's where I started. It may not be his strongest, but it had several moments I remember vividly. I'm looking forward to a reread somewhere in the future.
posted by nubs at 8:35 AM on June 10, 2013


I'm a keen fan of Algebraist, having recently re-read it. It does have a few sloggy bits but I am a big fan of all the Chekhov's guns in it; even when you think you've found them all in the first half of the book there's still another half dozen he'll pull on you in the dark alleys of the last hundred pages.

It also reminds me of Vinge's deep space series in that humanity's just a fly buzzing at the window of the cosmos; there's vastly more out there than we will ever know, suppose or could even imagine.

Against a Dark Background ultimately is a little bleak for me (although that's the point) but it is full of glorious scenery and set pieces, so.

I also re-read Player of Games recently on the news of his diagnosis and it still raises my hair in a few places; absolutely brilliant storytelling. I'm looking forward to going through the ouvre again, slowly, over the next few years, probably accompanied by something very, very peaty.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:54 AM on June 10, 2013


although that's the point

Clue is in the title! :-)
posted by Artw at 9:34 AM on June 10, 2013


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posted by mwhybark at 9:34 AM on June 10, 2013


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posted by brundlefly at 9:41 AM on June 10, 2013


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posted by doctornemo at 10:44 AM on June 10, 2013


The Ambiguous Utopia Of Iain M. Banks
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:25 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I started The Hydrogen Sonata and then put it down intending to return to it. Now I don't know if I can finish it. If I finish it, there will be no more new Culture books to read. Ever.

That's something that I cannot face right now.


I sat on my last Donald Westlake novel for about three years for the same reason. Then I thought that the only thing that would be worse than not having any new Westlake to read would be getting to my own death without having read it. And the world is full of unhappy surprises, so i quit stalling and read it.
posted by phearlez at 3:14 PM on June 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


11 Rules of Good Writing That Iain M. Banks Left as His Legacy
posted by homunculus at 3:36 PM on June 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


I dunno about that, but I'll feel like I'm failing him if I don't write at least one thing with a giant spaceship in.

/contemplates matching WWIBD and WWIMBD tattoos.
posted by Artw at 3:46 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'll feel like I'm failing him if I don't write at least one thing with a giant spaceship in.

Well there's at least something I can check off my bucket list.
posted by localroger at 3:54 PM on June 10, 2013


what both of them on the same day!?
fuck
. for 'm'
and
. for ''
posted by compound eye at 6:02 PM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:29 PM on June 10, 2013


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posted by Zimboe Metamonkey at 8:05 PM on June 10, 2013


.

To me, The Culture is the epitome of humanism. It isn't a paper cutout of some idealized humanity, it doesn't shirk from the uncomfortable aspects of our nature -- if anything, it goes out of its way to recognize the cruelty and depredation that we can visit on one another -- yet it still celebrates what humanity means and what it might accomplish. (Even if some of the most memorable personalities aren't biological at all.)

Iain Banks built a world I believe in -- not just one that I found believable, but one that I would have us aspire to. When I think about it, that seems like a gift beyond value.
posted by bjrubble at 12:11 AM on June 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


They came for him; they came down with a big beautiful ship, and they took him up and away and they made him all better again …
 “They never learn,” the sky sighed, quite distinctly.
 “Fuck you,” he said.
Use of Weapons, ch. VII
posted by mbrubeck at 12:52 AM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


GCU Well, You Did Ask For Some Gravitas
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:50 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Quarry: an extract from Iain Banks's final novel
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:18 AM on June 11, 2013


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posted by Lutoslawski at 9:55 AM on June 11, 2013


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Thanks for introducing me to his books, you all.
posted by dragonplayer at 10:22 AM on June 11, 2013


Possibly only in the UK: Edi Stark interviewing Iain on Radio Scotland.
posted by titus-g at 2:25 PM on June 11, 2013


It would be a little creepy if Ian Banks died, but Ian M. Banks were still alive somewhere, wouldn't it? Definitely cool, but a little creepy too.
posted by newdaddy at 5:09 AM on June 12, 2013


Wow, Amazon UK has nearly all of Banks's novels on sale with heavy discounts (most are £3.99, including Hydrogen Sonata and The Quarry hardback editions). Link.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 9:02 AM on June 12, 2013


Oddly Wasp Factory is available via Kindle in the UK, but not US.
posted by odinsdream at 9:42 AM on June 12, 2013


I'm seeing it in my US-available Amazon; $9.18.
posted by rtha at 9:47 AM on June 12, 2013


We knew it was coming, and it's still terrible.
posted by Mister_A at 10:20 AM on June 13, 2013


I'm seeing it in my US-available Amazon; $9.18.

That's coming up as "pre-order" for me. Not actually available.
posted by odinsdream at 11:01 AM on June 13, 2013


Iain Banks: Raw Spirit is up on Iplayer for those with access. I think 'tough watch' is going to be a massive understatement.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:51 AM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's coming up as "pre-order" for me. Not actually available.

I totally missed that. I always miss that!

I'm having a very hard time with Look to Windward. Not because it's hard, and not because I hate it (I love it so far), but because every time I pick it up to read it, I know that I'm coming closer to the end of it. It won't be the only time I read it, but this is the only first time I get. Stupid brain.
posted by rtha at 12:22 PM on June 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


fearfulsymmetry: "Iain Banks: Raw Spirit is up on Iplayer for those with access. I think 'tough watch' is going to be a massive understatement."

Very much worth watching. It is tough, but I hope when my own time comes I have half the humility and good humour that he had.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:10 PM on June 13, 2013


Very much worth watching. It is tough, but I hope when my own time comes I have half the humility and good humour that he had.

OK, I need a UK VPN provider like, right now. Options?
posted by odinsdream at 3:12 PM on June 13, 2013


topukvpn seems to be working just fine, fyi.
posted by odinsdream at 3:21 PM on June 13, 2013


On the radio in 2011:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b017pncn/Paperback_Writers_Series_2_Iain_Banks/
posted by runincircles at 1:43 AM on June 14, 2013


Ian Rankin giving a tribute to his friend Iain Banks
posted by camerasforeyes at 9:20 AM on June 14, 2013


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posted by Freen at 1:08 PM on June 14, 2013


Anger at dramatic discounting of Banks' The Quarry

Independent booksellers reacted with shock and anger to dramatic reductions yesterday (12th June) in the hardback price of recently deceased Iain Banks’ forthcoming novel The Quarry by retailers Amazon and Sainsbury’s.
However a spokesperson for Sainsbury's said the price dip was the result of "human error" which had now been corrected.

posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:13 AM on June 15, 2013


Reviews for The Quarry
The Guardian
The Telegraph
The Independent
The Scotsman
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:27 AM on June 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Iain Banks: the final interview
posted by pixie at 1:04 PM on June 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Raw Spirit, the BBC Scotland interview is up on youtube
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:49 AM on June 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just remembered I had a question re Hydrogen Sonata for the next time I went to Banks' book-signing. Now of course never to be answered by the man himself. Bollocks. (It was basically about the Presences and whether they were inspired/a piss take of google maps)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:56 AM on June 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Some more reviews of The Quarry

The Independent on Sunday's

The Observer's

The Express's

The Herald's

There's also a couple up on the Times but screw Rupe and his paywall
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:16 AM on June 16, 2013


Iain Banks’s ‘bucket list’ wish for final book

THE Quarry may have been Iain Banks’s last novel, but there could be one more book to come from the late writer – a collection of poetry.

The Scottish author revealed in his final interview before his death from cancer last week that he had hoped to 
secure a publisher for an anthology of 50 poems as part of a “bucket list” of things he wanted to do before he died.

posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:19 PM on June 16, 2013


The Quarry: Iain Banks – digested read

Not read it as those things tend to be totally spoilerific... some of the comments are entertaining mind

Got my copy today... but I think I'll be putting off reading it for a while too. There's an actual quarry not far from my house and I might take a wander over when I've got a bit of spare time to read the first few pages with it as a backdrop.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:23 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I actually only got through the final interview to the bit where he says he would have liked to go out on a big Culture novel and then I had to stop reading it and haven't built up the nerve to go back. It didn't help that I was on the bus.
posted by Artw at 10:28 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is now a body in space named after Iain Banks. Say hello to Asteroid 5099 Iainbanks.

This delights me.
posted by Happy Dave at 4:44 AM on July 4, 2013 [8 favorites]


That is so, so wonderful.
posted by rtha at 1:21 PM on July 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


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