Culture Shock

It’s difficult to put into words my feelings after 24 hours spent ruminating over the death of Iain Banks.

He is one of the authors with whom I grew up, whose works (alongside Terry Pratchett’s) I would, as a teenager, quite literally wait for with baited breath. The release of a new Banks novel was like the release of a new Iron Maiden LP – it couldn’t get here fast enough and the trip home from the bookshop was a sprint in my eagerness to dive into the treasure chest of wonder that I knew waited for me.

The recent passing of Jack Vance sort of came and went. I respected his work, but I’d really only read Emphyrio. Banks on the other hand was a writer whose work has defined the standards of great modern writing, its brilliance a benchmark for literary science fiction (and contemporary fiction we mustn’t forget). Few authors can match his sprawling works of genius that captivate and beguile in equal measure. The only living writer who comes close (that I can think of off-hand) is Adam Roberts.

So a big chunk of my reading life has disappeared.

After his last novel, The Quarry, is released, there will be no more waiting for his next book.

Nor will there be any of his thoughts and opinions, which he liked to share via the internet. He was a kindly man who believed in a society where everyone is valued and the needs of the many more important than the wants of the few.

He has left a fine body of work, but the literary world has lost one of its greats, and I am filled with sorrow.


Iain Banks Interview at Odyssey 2010 from Keith Smith on Vimeo.


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