Some Fascinating Things I Learned From This Profile Of Iain M. Banks

Illustration for article titled Some Fascinating Things I Learned From This Profile Of Iain M. Banks

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.

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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]

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DISCUSSION

interstellar
Interstellar

I really miss Banks – not just his novels but reading and watching his interviews – the guy was just warm and witty, through and through.

MacLeod was the one that encouraged Banks to dig out Use of Weapons and reorder the chapters into the phenomenal novel it is now, hence Banks' acknowledgment at the beginning of the book to his friend for persuading him "to argue the old warrior out of retirement".

If anyone's interested in finding out more about the Culture, I highly recommend Banks' own 'A Few Notes on the Culture' essay.