I missed the announcement in April that author Iain M. Banks had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Or as Banks put it then, that he was “officially Very Poorly.” So I was surprised — stunned, saddened — this week to read the news of his death. He died Sunday, June 9. The last novel of his that I read — which I was reading at about the time he learned the “grisly truth” — was The Hydrogen Sonata. It was his tenth “Culture” novel. I read all ten, and hoped to read ten more.
Not now . . .
The Culture novels are science fiction — space opera of a brilliant, idiosyncratic type — and account for less than half of Banks’ literary output. The Culture novels aren’t a series, but rather a set of stand-alone adventures that share a fictional universe. A gorgeous, and ultimately optimistic, universe it is, which isn’t to say that nothing terrible ever happens there. Plenty terrible does. It’s a lot like our own universe in that respect.
Banks was 59. People who knew him say he was a good man.
All I know is, he was a hell of a good writer. This universe is duller for his passing.