Last year, I was shocked to read that Iain M. Banks announced that he had cancer and was going to die within months. I had first come across him when I picked up Consider Phlebas, and several of its sequels when my Waldenbooks shut down and liquidated its stock: his books were amongst the first that I grabbed and stuck in the backroom to hold while we waited for the store to close. I really enjoyed the novel, although I’ve yet to really pick up any of the others. I was facinated by the depth and breadth of the Culture.
Banks plays a critical role in the resurgence of space opera in England, leading a number of other well-known authors such as Alastair Reynolds, Peter Hamilton, Stephen Baxter and others around the 1990s. Space opera is a type of story that’s not been well recieved, and Banks sort of bridges the gap between authors such as Arthur C. Clarke and C.J. Cherryh and those such as James S.A. Corey.
I have a growing stack of Culture novels that I’ve picked up over the years, and I look forward to digging through them. After Banks passed away in 2013, I think it’s best to savor them.
- Trillion Year Spree, Brian Aldiss. Aldiss speaks about Banks briefly, as his career was just starting up.
- SciFi Chronicles, Guy Haley. Haley’s book has a page about Banks and his works. This is a neat book, and while it’s not terribly scholarly or anything, it provides a LOT of information to work with.
- The Space Opera Renaissance, edited by Kathryn Cramer and David G. Hartwell. Cramer/Hartwell have a fantastic introduction to Banks’ short story in this fiction anthology and a look at the evolution of Space Opera as a whole. Banks is noted as someone who brought a new resurgence to the genre in the late 80s/90s.
- Science Fiction, Roger Luckhurst. Luckhurst speaks about Banks and his works in some critical detail.
- The History of Science Fiction, Adam Roberts. Roberts devotes some space to Banks, placing him in context with a greater SF movement in English space opera.
This was probably the first time I found a lot of online sources, commentary and interviews with one of my subjects. Here’s where I went for information:
- Use of Calculators. Blog from Kem MacLeod about how Use of Weapons came about.
- Banks, Iain M. As always, the Encyclopedia has provided a nice article on Banks, which provides some good critical context.
- How Will Iain M. Banks’ Culture Translate To The Big Screen? Post from io9 about some of the movie news.
- Doing the Business, Profile: Iain M. Banks. A profile from the Guardian Newspaper about Banks, which provides quite a few good details on Banks’ life.
- Exclusive: Iain M Banks Talks Culture Banks speaking about the prospect of one of his stories becoming a movie.
- Cultured futurist Iain M. Banks creates an ornate utopia. This is a great interview with Banks, one that provides some good information on the behind-the-scenes of his books.
- io9 Talks to Iain M. Banks About His New Novel and Why He Likes to Blow Things Up. Specifically, they’re talking about Matter.
- Iain Banks. Profile from the British Council on Literature, which provides some good behind the scenes details about his life.
- Asteroid Names After Iain Banks. Article about an asteroid named in Banks’ honor.
- October 2004 Interview: Iain Banks: A Restless Imagination Banks talks a little about the Algebraist in this interview.
- A man of culture 2007 profile of Banks.
- Iain Banks: the final interview. This is the last interview Banks conducted.
- “Fuck every cause that ends in murder and children crying” — Iain Banks, 1954-2013. Charles Stross on Banks’ passing.
- Iain M. Banks (1954 – 2013) Ken MacLeod on Banks’ passing.
I’d also like to throw out a huge thanks to Ken MacLeod, who agreed to speak with me about Banks and his life. I’ll put the interview up in a bit.