Reading: Iain Banks — Dead Air

A momentary diversion through Iain Banks (his books that is, not his self) after finishing the delightful and thoroughly reconfirmed as my favourite science-fiction book, Feersum Endjinn, and so wondering which of his other books I haven’t read in the near past. Dead Air, then. Which I probably read last when I was on my inaugural Banksian exploration, and besides the opening chapter, I didn’t have much recollection of.

This is one of my least favourite works from Banks, and also one of the more regularly cited as a brilliant exemplar of all things Iain from the type of reader who sees himself unproblematically in the leading role, who fails to grasp that the protagonist really is a destructive, unsympathetic, coked-up wanker. I’m not sure if Iain at the time of writing identified with Ken; the socio-political rants coming through the character’s mouth are evidently his, though I’m undecided whether the other sleazy traits are also a projection or a lengthy underlining on what constituted an A-class wanker in the post-Cool Britainnia, London in 2001.

It reminded me repeatedly of this bit from Chris Morris’ Nathan Barley:

Do you stride around while a Walkman fills your head with music, fancying yourself the star of some as-yet-unmade movie? Are you adrift in a narcissistic daydream coloured by the big-name soundtrack of your choosing? Is your life little more than a string of fantasised set-pieces that spool through your echoing cranium, a private cinema of conceited ultraviolent tedium? Reckon your vision could become a celluloid masterpiece? Are you a cunt? Are you? Are you some kind of cunt? Is that what you are? Some kind of cunt?

Even as satire, it gets tiresome.

Iain Banks — Dead Air
Iain Banks — Dead Air