Saturday, June 15, 2013
In Memoriam - Iain M. Banks 1954-2013
Renowned Scottish novelist Iain Menzies Banks passed away last week. He authored 27 novels, an intriguing mix of literary, crime and science fiction. His latest novel, The Quarry (M) is due out this year. He was acclaimed for his imaginative and gritty writing style. He is also recognized for successfully injecting political themes in his books. He received many literary awards and nominations, including multiple British Science Fiction Association awards.
NoveList describes him as follows: "Prolific Scottish novelist Iain Banks dabbles with elements of horror, science fiction and thrillers in all of his works of fiction. Utilizing dark humor to punctuate his labyrinthine plots, his occasionally unsympathetic characters face ghastly situations in a stark psychologically taut future. While a strong thread of left-wing politics, including anarchy, are explored in his works, his vivid works are not precisely political. Banks' literary fiction is more restrained in pace and voice, while his science fiction soars with unbridled imagination."
His first novel was The Wasp Factory (M), a gritty and bizarre tale of a 16 year old and his disturbing rituals. It was rejected six times before becoming a bestseller in 1984. The Mail (UK) reviewer said at the time: “If a nastier, more vicious or distasteful novel appears this spring, I shall be surprised. But there is unlikely to be a better one either.”
His innovative Culture Universe science fiction series has 10 entries, starting with Consider Phlebas (M) and ending with The Hydrogen Sonata (M). It has been often described as a space opera.
"This extremely fine piece of storytelling vividly depicts a gigantic interstellar war and an almost equally large cast of characters. The war is being fought between the rationalistic humanoids of the Culture and the religious tripedal Idirans. Horza, a Changer (able to take on the form of any human being), serves the Idirans out of conviction that the Culture is overly dominated by its increasingly sophisticated machines, including the sapient Minds. The action is practically nonstop, and Banks proves himself adept at poetic prose, characterization, and descriptions of marvelous technical devices. Highly recommended for all sf collections." Booklist