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 Post subject: Iain Banks has died.
PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 11:15 am 
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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22835047

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Author Iain Banks has died aged 59, two months after announcing he had terminal cancer, his family has said.

The Scottish writer revealed in April he was suffering from terminal gall bladder cancer and was unlikely to live for more than a year.

He was best known for his novels The Wasp Factory, The Crow Road and Complicity.


Well, shiitake. I kind of expected another couple of months, at least.

To say that Iain (M) Banks was the center of my literary landscape in the 90's would be an understatement. His generally-brilliant books led me to other Scots SF writers-- Ken Macleod, Alastair Reynolds, Charlie Stross, others. In the days before amazon.co.uk, I visited Waterstone's whenever I was near Newbury Street because it was the only bookstore in Boston that always had his new books when they came out, the UK editions before they were published in the US.

And then of course, the Culture List, which led to some lasting friendships, meeting people in Baltimore and Washington DC and London.

It's not going to be the same sort of world without an Iain Banks in it, drinking scotch and coming up with incredible distant futures.

Even if Banks' recent books

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 Post subject: Re: Iain Banks has died.
PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 11:39 am 
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This news has made me pretty damn sad.


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 Post subject: Re: Iain Banks has died.
PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 11:49 am 
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Ack, hit send, then did other stuff. So much for that train of thought.

His later books weren't as good as his earlier works, but hell, he could have just stopped after a dozen or so and still left a striking legacy...

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 Post subject: Re: Iain Banks has died.
PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 1:26 pm 
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It's always cancer, damn it. :(

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 Post subject: Re: Iain Banks has died.
PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 1:32 pm 
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Mr. Shankly wrote:
It's always cancer, damn it. :(

Yeah, cancer really and truly sucks...

I'm unfamiliar with his work, but everything I've read about him since he announced his illness makes me want to read his books.


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 Post subject: Re: Iain Banks has died.
PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 1:38 pm 
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We read The Wasp Factory in highschool, and it was completely different from anything else we were reading. It still kinda haunts me.

Edited to add: That English teacher was the best teacher I ever, ever had (and English was far from my favourite subject). He passed away the year after I left highschool and now I'm doubly sad remembering him. He made me love reading again.


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 Post subject: Re: Iain Banks has died.
PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 1:48 pm 
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primesaut wrote:
Mr. Shankly wrote:
It's always cancer, damn it. :(

Yeah, cancer really and truly sucks...

I'm unfamiliar with his work, but everything I've read about him since he announced his illness makes me want to read his books.


Watch out, because (especially early on) he has a vicious sense of humor. If you can make it through The Wasp Factory you should be able to handle anything else, though.

A review:

"If a nastier, more vicious or distasteful novel appears this spring, I shall be surprise. But there is unlikely to be a better one either. You can hardly breathe for fear of missing a symbol, or a fine phrase, or a horror so chilling that your hair stands on end. Infinitely painful to read, grotesque but human, these pages have a totality rare in fiction. A mighty imagination has arrived on the scene." - Mail on Sunday

I don't know if it's _that_ awful, but it's certainly quite grotesque. I can't recommend it enough, but beware.

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 Post subject: Re: Iain Banks has died.
PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 2:29 pm 
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I adore The Wasp Factory. I read it when I was 16, just a few days before going to see a stunning stage version. The twists and turns in it were completely unexpected. Knowing that books could be like that was a bit of an epiphany to my teenage self and made me want to read more.

RIP.


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 Post subject: Re: Iain Banks has died.
PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 3:33 pm 
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http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2013/06/i ... out-m.html

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/06/0 ... in-M-Banks

http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/new ... 2013_06_08 <- annoying paywall. I can't read the actual article. :/

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 Post subject: Re: Iain Banks has died.
PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 4:02 pm 
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I've loved everything I ever read of his. Especially the sci-fi. Very sad.


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 Post subject: Re: Iain Banks has died.
PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 5:04 pm 
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I loved The Wasp Factory. Very sad news.

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 Post subject: Re: Iain Banks has died.
PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 5:59 pm 
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Brilliant man. I loved him. And he outlived Thatcher. Huzzah.

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 Post subject: Re: Iain Banks has died.
PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 6:07 pm 
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solipsistnation wrote:
Watch out, because (especially early on) he has a vicious sense of humor. If you can make it through The Wasp Factory you should be able to handle anything else, though.

A review:

"If a nastier, more vicious or distasteful novel appears this spring, I shall be surprise. But there is unlikely to be a better one either. You can hardly breathe for fear of missing a symbol, or a fine phrase, or a horror so chilling that your hair stands on end. Infinitely painful to read, grotesque but human, these pages have a totality rare in fiction. A mighty imagination has arrived on the scene." - Mail on Sunday

I don't know if it's _that_ awful, but it's certainly quite grotesque. I can't recommend it enough, but beware.

You know, this just moved him right to the top of my "to read" list. Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Iain Banks has died.
PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 7:52 pm 
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primesaut wrote:
solipsistnation wrote:
Watch out, because (especially early on) he has a vicious sense of humor. If you can make it through The Wasp Factory you should be able to handle anything else, though.

A review:

"If a nastier, more vicious or distasteful novel appears this spring, I shall be surprise. But there is unlikely to be a better one either. You can hardly breathe for fear of missing a symbol, or a fine phrase, or a horror so chilling that your hair stands on end. Infinitely painful to read, grotesque but human, these pages have a totality rare in fiction. A mighty imagination has arrived on the scene." - Mail on Sunday

I don't know if it's _that_ awful, but it's certainly quite grotesque. I can't recommend it enough, but beware.

You know, this just moved him right to the top of my "to read" list. Thanks!


Same! Can't wait to read it. And so deeply sorry that the world lost another great author.

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 Post subject: Re: Iain Banks has died.
PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 9:28 pm 
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Okay, so if you want to start reading Iain Banks, here are my recommendations:

Non-SF:

The Wasp Factory -- yeah, pretty nasty, but also fascinating and, as they say, very human. A study of a very broken family, but not broken in any straight-up Lifetime Original Movie sort of way. A more striking first novel I have not read.

The Crow Road -- a coming-of-age story. Youth, young love, exploding grandmothers.

Espedair Street -- a very short novel, one of my favorite fictional rock bios.

The Bridge -- experimental prose, lots of layers, some very strange jokes. Imagery you will not soon forget. Has a happy ending, but it's in another book entirely.

Complicity -- a very nasty novel about very nasty stuff.

SF novels:

Consider Phlebas -- if you were to start reading Culture novels, this is the one to start with. Dismantles SF tropes and puts them back together in a bunch of different ways. Postmodern, but not tedious. Pretty much launched the "New Space Opera" movement in British SF.

Use of Weapons -- I don't want to say too much, but it is the best of the Culture novels.

Feersum Endjinn -- fun with phonetic spelling! huge scale, human drama, I should reread this myself sometime soon.

Excession, Against A Dark Background, really, his SF is generally quite good. You could do far worse than just going down the list in order. Same with his non-genre fiction, although I tend to think his SF is generally stronger than his non-SF books.

Skip: Canal Dreams (I have tried and tried to like it, but man. Not gonna happen.)

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 Post subject: Re: Iain Banks has died.
PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 9:30 pm 
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Charlie Stross has added his own elegy.

http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-st ... s-in-.html

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 Post subject: Re: Iain Banks has died.
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 4:50 am 
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The Wasp Factory was the only book my former reading group read that I never finished. I got to the part about the rabbits and got so angry and disgusted that I literally threw the book against a wall and never read another word. I have been afraid to read any more of his work since then.

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 Post subject: Re: Iain Banks has died.
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 11:35 am 
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Yeah, that's why I'm a little dubious about recommending it on this forum in particular.

His later books are, uh, less so, if you know what I mean. (That is, mostly his people do nasty things to other people.)


Kieron Gillen has weighed in:

http://kierongillen.tumblr.com/post/525 ... /rip-banks

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 Post subject: Re: Iain Banks has died.
PostPosted: Tue Jun 11, 2013 9:48 am 
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"as Gaiman put it “Even the bad ones were good, and the good ones were astonishing”."
Yes indeed.


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 Post subject: Re: Iain Banks has died.
PostPosted: Tue Jun 11, 2013 1:37 pm 
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I have not read any of his books, but my dad is a big fan. From what I've read about him he seems like an interesting guy. RIP.


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 Post subject: Re: Iain Banks has died.
PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2013 11:40 pm 
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The catchment of these cultured lives
Was not in flesh,
And what we only knew,
You felt
With all the marrow of your twisted cells.

-- from _Use of Weapons_

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