On Sunday 9th June 2013 the literary world lost Iain Banks, who wrote sci-fi titles under the name Iain M Banks. His wife Adele broke the news, saying: “Iain died in the early hours this morning. His death was calm and without pain.”
Banks had revealed in April he had gall bladder cancer and was unlikely to live for more than a year.
Banks said in an interview with the BBC that he was some 87,000 words into writing his last book, The Quarry – to be released on 20 June – which would detail the physical and emotional strain of cancer and describes the final weeks of the life of a man in his 40s who has terminal cancer, when he was diagnosed with his own illness.
“I had no inkling. So it wasn’t as though this is a response to the disease or anything, the book had been kind of ready to go,” he said.
“And then 10,000 words from the end, as it turned out, I suddenly discovered that I had cancer.”
After announcing his illness in April, Banks asked his publishers to bring forward the release date so he could see it on the shelves and while he unfortunately did not live to see this his publisher, Little Brown, said the author was presented with finished copies of his last novel three weeks ago and went on to say that Banks was one of the country’s best-loved novelists” for both his mainstream and science fiction books, with an ability to combine the most fertile of imaginations with his own highly distinctive brand of gothic humour making him unique.
He was a multiple award winner, including the British Science Fiction Association Award, and was best known for his novels The Wasp Factory, The Crow Road and Complicity.
Banks’ first novel, The Wasp Factory, was published in 1984 and was ranked as one of the best 100 books of the 20th Century in a 1997 poll conducted by book chain Waterstones and Channel 4.
In 2008 he was named one of the 50 greatest British writers since 1945 in a list compiled by The Times.
The writer’s most recent sci-fi title, as name Iain M Banks, ‘The Hydrogen Sonata’, was released last year.
The last word on this sad passing will come from fellow author Neil Gaiman, who had shared debates with Banks in the bar after writer conventions. He said: “If you’ve never read any of his books, read one of his books. Then read another. Even the bad ones were good, and the good ones were astonishing.”
Rest in Peace Iain: 16 February 1954 – 9 June 2013