Iain M. Banks is one of my favorite science fiction writers, and we've done a guide to his Culture novels, but I still learned some new stuff from this in-depth profile of him in Kirkus Reviews by io9 contributor Andrew Liptak.

Among other things, I knew that at least one of Banks' famous novels about the Culture, his post-scarcity interstellar civilization, were written long before they were published. But I didn't realize that he had written versions of Use of Weapons, Against a Dark Background, The Player of Games and Consider Phlebas by the late 1970s — although they were all rewritten heavily before being published. Not only that, but Banks wrote his first novel, Hungarian Lift Jet, at age 16, and wrote a future-set novel in the 1970s that was never published, The TTR.

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I also didn't know he'd been friends with fellow SF writer Ken MacLeod in high school, when they both worked on the school's magazine and Banks wrote his own adventure stories for it. I also had not realized that Banks never won a Hugo or Nebula Award in his lifetime, and was seldom even on the ballot, even though his novels arguably transformed science fiction and helped jumpstart a new era of space opera.

The whole article is definitely worth checking out. [Kirkus]