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Iain Banks, 1954-2013

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  • Iain Banks, 1954-2013

    Horrid news: BBC snippet here.

    We rarely smile on wholescale copy/paste from another website, but in this case I'm going for it anyway.
    From the BBC again (as Iain's own website seems to have collapsed under the strain); a statement from Iain himself:

    Originally posted by Iain Banks

    I am officially Very Poorly.

    After a couple of surgical procedures, I am gradually recovering from jaundice caused by a blocked bile duct, but that - it turns out - is the least of my problems.

    I first thought something might be wrong when I developed a sore back in late January, but put this down to the fact I'd started writing at the beginning of the month and so was crouched over a keyboard all day. When it hadn't gone away by mid-February, I went to my GP, who spotted that I had jaundice. Blood tests, an ultrasound scan and then a CT scan revealed the full extent of the grisly truth by the start of March.

    I have cancer. It started in my gall bladder, has infected both lobes of my liver and probably also my pancreas and some lymph nodes, plus one tumour is massed around a group of major blood vessels in the same volume, effectively ruling out any chance of surgery to remove the tumours either in the short or long term.

    The bottom line, now, I'm afraid, is that as a late stage gall bladder cancer patient, I'm expected to live for 'several months' and it's extremely unlikely I'll live beyond a year. So it looks like my latest novel, The Quarry, will be my last.

    As a result, I've withdrawn from all planned public engagements and I've asked my partner Adele if she will do me the honour of becoming my widow (sorry - but we find ghoulish humour helps). By the time this goes out we'll be married and on a short honeymoon. We intend to spend however much quality time I have left seeing friends and relations and visiting places that have meant a lot to us. Meanwhile my heroic publishers are doing all they can to bring the publication date of my new novel forward by as much as four months, to give me a better chance of being around when it hits the shelves.

    There is a possibility that it might be worth undergoing a course of chemotherapy to extend the amount of time available. However that is still something we're balancing the pros and cons of, and anyway it is out of the question until my jaundice has further and significantly, reduced.

    Lastly, I'd like to add that from my GP onwards, the professionalism of the medics involved - and the speed with which the resources of the NHS in Scotland have been deployed - has been exemplary, and the standard of care deeply impressive. We're all just sorry the outcome hasn't been more cheerful.

    A website is being set up where friends, family and fans can leave messages for me and check on my progress. It should be up and running during this week and a link to it will be here on my official website as soon as it's ready.

    Iain Banks

    A website has been setup with the above statement and a guest book:
    Last edited by Rothgo; 04-03-2013, 06:02 AM.

  • #2
    Very sad news indeed : (


    • #3
      Terribly tragic.
      _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
      _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
      _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
      _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."


      • #4
        Very sad news
        "From time to time I demonstrate the inconceivable, or mock the innocent, or give truth to liars, or shred the poses of virtue.(...) Now I am silent; this is my mood." From Sundrun's Garden, Jack Vance.
        "As the Greeks have created the Olympus based upon their own image and resemblance, we have created Gotham City and Metropolis and all these galaxies so similar to the corporate world, manipulative, ruthless and well paid, that conceived them." Braulio Tavares.


        • #5
          Sad news indeed! I've not read any Banks for years and the truth is I kinda lost interest, but boy oh boy, when I first got into him in my early twenties I read him almost exclusively for a year or so! I couldn't get enough... much respect to him for all those amazing hours of reading pleasure he gave me (and others) and my thoughts go with him and his family!

          1. a meeting or assembly for the open discussion of subjects of public interest
          2. a medium for open discussion, such as a magazine
          3. a public meeting place for open discussion


          • #6
            Sad news, indeed.

            I remember what a shocker, The Wasp Factory, was when it came out. Still an ingenious psychological thriller.

            I think I've got an Iain M. Banks, Culture series, hardback somewhere upstairs amongst my SF collection. I'll have to look it out.


            • #7
              Very sad news. I'm sure many peoples thoughts are with him as he faces up to this.
              'You know, I can't keep up with you. If I hadn't met you in person, I quite honestly would NOT believe you really existed. I just COULDN'T. You do so MUCH... if half of what goes into your zines is to be believed, you've read more at the age of 17 than I have at the age of 32 - LOTS more'

              Archie Mercer to Mike (Burroughsania letters page, 1957)


              • #8
                Being a huge fan since his early days i find this desperate news and can only wish Iain all the best.
                "I hate to advocate drugs,alcohol,violence or insanity to anyone,but they've always worked for me"

                Hunter S Thompson


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Pietro_Mercurios View Post
                  I remember what a shocker, The Wasp Factory, was when it came out. Still an ingenious psychological thriller.
                  Aye, it's a great lil novel in the gothic tradition.

                  1. a meeting or assembly for the open discussion of subjects of public interest
                  2. a medium for open discussion, such as a magazine
                  3. a public meeting place for open discussion


                  • #10
                    Poor fellah. I feel so sorry for anyone having to go through this horrible stuff.
                    Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it.

                    ~Henry David Thoreau


                    • #11
                      I can understand what he's going through as I just witnessed by Dad going through those same hard choices this past year. My heart really goes out to him, his family, his friends, and all his fans. It is a hard time but in some ways there is a blessing in knowing the limited time left.
                      "In omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro"
                      --Thomas a Kempis


                      • #12
                        hi, this is my first post here, but i have been a forum lurker here for around 5 years.

                        Iain Banks introduced me to Mikes work

                        I wasn't that avid a reader, but i picked up player of games around 15 years or so ago, thinking probably "cool spaceships" or something, as i needed a book to read for my holidays, and was hooked on the dark humour, left libertarian politics and well the general humanity of it all. This was genre fiction, but genre fiction with a message and a warmth and joviality to it.

                        Then i discovered Iain did "posh people" books, when he wasn't writing scifi and got great satisfaction from books like the crow road and whit, which weren't "posh" at all, but had characters like people i know and love in real life.

                        later i wanted something similar, i quite enjoyed other scifi authors like Iain's friend Ken McCloud and Dan Simmons, but they were lacking the gentle mikey taking and nudging joviality, though still decent reads. Most other scifi of that time though was horribly fascistic, and though i may have had some guilty pleasures on the "action sequences", generally i abandoned the books mid read or felt like a guilty sweaty pervert after reading them.

                        A friend much later in life, pointed me in the direction of Mikes books, saying basically he was to fantasy what Iain was to scifi, and that the culture had some influence from the jherek carnelian books.

                        well fortunately the Dancers at the end of Time was actually a scifi book too, it was a fantastic read and im a bit annoyed with myself that I was in my 30s and with kids before i got around to reading one of mikes books. Later i read corum, elric, von bek etc.. and was pleased to see they weren't at all what i thought of about fantasy books in general "big hairy blokes killing dragons and taking the princess", they were subverting the usual "heroic" upstanding law and order daily mail fanboi hero image i had of fantasy books, much like Iains work subverts the scifi genre.

                        I'm not normally upset by celebrity news. But I'm gutted about the news of Iains illness, as gutted as i've ever been about someone i don't personally know, the only comparable thing being John Peels death. There's something about devouring every book someone reads, especially if you feel they think about the world in a similar way to yourself, that just kind of grabs you by the guts when things like this happen.

                        The mans books have expanded my horizons, made me more tolerant and introduced me to other great writers / thinkers, like Mike. I guess there's thousands of other people that he has had a similar influence upon, via the "gateway drug" of space opera, and all the fucking best to him for it. Top Bloke.


                        • #13
                          You aren't alone Johnny.
                          Infinite complexity according to simple rules.


                          • #14
                            yeah, bit of a bummer really. Banks is the only writer other than Mike whose books (well, sci fi ones) I will buy without researching first. Also comes accross as an eminantly pleasant and decent human being. Hope all goes as smoothly as it can for him.


                            • #15
                              I first recall meeting Iain in 1986 at FIFTEENCON, which was his second convention. I've just been looking at the photos I took there.

                              In days gone by, fans and pros were one community but by the mid-1980s that was no longer always the case and you couldn't necessarily assume a neo-pro wouldn't look down on fans or be so totally up their own arse as to see conventions as nothing more than an opportunity to promote themselves and push their books. When Banks turned up it was obvious we didn't need to worry on that score. He got it immediately. He was one of us.

                              I can still remember how delighted he was at that convention, like someone who had found his tribe, a feeling many of us know. He got into the spirit of things, and was happy to sit around drinking with us all late into the night. Still, it was a bit of a bit surprise when he decided to climb the outside of the Royal Angus, though only M.John Harrison took this as a challenge and decided to join him in that endeavour. As an author known to enjoy mountain climbing perhaps he felt he had to.

                              I think it was the final afternoon when we were all sat around in the bar and Banksie announced: "My round, I think". Nothing unusual about that you might think, except that the round turned out to be several bottles of champagne delivered to the table in ice buckets. I was impressed. The champagne was poured, and he called the toast:

                              "To fandom!" he said.

                              Like I said, he got it..

                              As dreadful as the news is, I take some comfort in the fact that he's being treated by the NHS and so can devote his remaining time to his friends and loved ones rather than having to expend energy on worrying about about the grotesque healthcare bills that American counterparts in similar circumstances have had to contend with: