I never know what to say when someone dies, even 10 years on. Gala and I joked my epitaph should be, “Fuck you looking at? I’ll knife ya.” Ten years ago, Iain Banks died. Shit joke. Unequivocally my fave author at the time. I’ve read a heap since then and in that specific genre only Tamsyn Muir and Ann Leckie have come close. Yeah, a lot of other writers are amazing and touched my heart, made me laugh, but this is the you can take a tote bag of books to a desert island kind of love and it’s those three with Iain forever first.
Like so many weird subculture scenes, Iain got the attention of way too many straight white dudes. And because he was a nominally straight white dude, with a love of fast cars, whiskey and drugs, he doesn’t get much attention outside that very mediocre bubble of dudes talking. Yeah, Excession is a banger of a space opera, but have you read Feersum Endjinn? Or Whit? That shit has radical, liberatory politics all the way through. He was writing Black, Brown, trans, queer liberation and love back in the ’90s. And he always seemed like one of those so rare, genuinely good, thoughtful, fun, caring men. The kind we need a whole lot more of.
Over the almost twenty years of this blog, I’ve written about or mentioned him in the low hundreds of posts. He even has his own tag, though for that number he should be a category. Here’s some of my faves, chronologically.
- The Cars of Iain Banks: The Crow Road
- Reading: Iain M. Banks — Against a Dark Background (4th-ish Time)
- Reading: Iain Banks — Complicity (4th-ish Time)
- Reading: Iain Banks — The Business (6th+ time)
- Reading: Iain M. Banks — Matter (3rd time)
- Reading: Iain M. Banks — Surface Detail (3rd time)
- Reading: Iain Banks — Whit (3rd time)
- Reading: Iain M. Banks — Feersum Endjinn (7th+ time)
- Reading: Iain Banks — The Wasp Factory
- Reading: Iain Banks — Raw Spirit: In Search of the Perfect Dram
- Reading: Iain M. Banks — The Hydrogen Sonata
Which caused me to read some of my own writing from the last decade and I’m not as shamed or embarrassed as I feared. Which might be me lacking in self-awareness of what I’m missing, but whatever.
And what caused this — I was not paying attention and February 16th was his birthday and it’s 10 years since he died — was a thread by Assoc for Scottish Literature with a bunch of links to articles and interviews I’m going to remind myself of by putting here:
- Reading Double, Writing Double: The Fiction Of Iain (M.) Banks
- Iain Banks: The Wasp Factory
- A Few Questions About the Culture: An Interview with Iain Banks By Jude Roberts
- The Ambiguous Utopia of Iain M. Banks
- The Difference Is Entirely One of Setting: Iain Banks’ The Crow Road
- The Culture War: Iain M. Banks’s Billionaire Fans
(Not including the Guardian one though. Fuck that TERF transphobe rag. Wouldn’t piss on it if it was on fire.)
Cheers, Iain. I’d have loved for you to scare the shit out of me in the passenger seat of a red F40 hooning the highland roads of Scotland.