Wednesday, 3 April 2013
Desperately sad news about Iain M Banks
One of my all-time favourite authors, the great Iain M Banks has announced today that he has terminal gall bladder cancer and it's "extremely unlikely" he will live beyond a year. His full statement on the subject, full of courage and humour, can be read here at the SFX website.
I've long been a fan of this most versatile, intelligent, humane and witty of authors - from the dazzling SF futures of the Culture novels ( Use Of Weapons, Excession, The Player Of Games etc. ) and other stand-alone novels like Feersum Endjinn - to his "mainstream" novels such as The Steep Approach To Garbadale and the classic The Crow Road - to his "slipstream" ( ie unclassifiable ) books such as his masterpiece, The Bridge.
And below is my signed copy of that wonderful, head-spinning novel...
I met the great man at a book signing in my local Waterstone's way back in 1997. I blundered in and walked up to the desk and, with nothing better to say, remarked "I thought there would be more people here than this..." Not a great first impression it has to be said. As I recovered my composure Mr. Banks turned out to be graciousness itself, ignored my embarrassment, and chatted happily for a few minutes. I babbled on that I loved his work, even though at that point I probably hadn't read a lot of it. I asked him if the rumours were true that he'd had an uncredited bit part in the TV version of The Crow Road. Apparently they weren't. Soon after I realised I was making a prat of myself so I thanked the great man for his time and moved on... with my signed copy.
This news has really upset me today and I just wanted to set a few thoughts down about this much-loved author. Maybe I'll write some more at some point, but it all feels too sad at the moment. I'm obviously feeling it more personally than I should because of my own recent brush with the dreaded C-word. But it is still a terrible shame and a waste of a life...
"The dark station, shuttered and empty, echoed to the distant, fading whistle of the departing train"