Thank You, Iain Menzies Banks

There’s been a slight disturbance in the Force (otherwise known as the internet) the past couple of days.

A Scottish author, beloved by many – and me – has recently died. Far too soon, and with too many stories yet untold.

I’ve been reading the many tributes left to him by fans and fellow-writers alike.

I find it strange and intriguing how much his death has affected me. I never knew the man, never met him, and yet somehow his death has caused tears to spring unbidden to my eyes. God forbid that I’m having a Princess Di moment. I would like to think that my sorrow is caused simply by the fact that he was, by all accounts, a good man, and his voice has been stilled far too early.

He wrote in both major and minor keys. For the snobs, the major keys were his “mainstream” literary works; such as The Wasp Factory and Complicity.

But, great though they were, for the rest of us, his so-called “minor”works – his SF novels – were the real thing. He wove an entire civilisation – The Culture – spanning multiple worlds and thousands of years. And he made it real. As Ken MacLeod wrote:

He likened writing literary fiction to playing a piano, and writing SF to playing a vast church organ. Squandering the “unlimited effects budget” of his imagination on the vast scale of SF was always, by a small edge, the greater joy.

It’s difficult to choose one passage from all his work that stands for him and what he said to me. But I think it has to be this, from Against A Dark Background:

Sorrow be damned and all your plans. Fuck the faithful, fuck the committed, the dedicated, the true believers; fuck all the sure and certain people prepared to maim and kill whoever got in their way; fuck every cause that ended in murder and a child screaming.


About Geoff Coupe

I'm a British citizen, although I have lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1983. I came here on a three year assignment, but fell in love with the country, and one Dutchman in particular, and so have stayed here ever since. On the 13th December 2006 I also became a Dutch citizen.
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3 Responses to Thank You, Iain Menzies Banks

  1. I couldn’t agree more. I also shed a tear and decided to load ebooks for my upcoming holiday and will re-read the banksy stuff

  2. Pingback: RIP Margi | Geoff Coupe's Blog

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