Famed science fiction writer Iain M. Banks (known as Iain Banks for non-SF works) will have his poetry published in time for what would have been the author’s 61st birthday this month. The collection will include poetry by his long-time friend, Ken Macleod.
Banks’ website announced the publication on Monday. Macleod edited the collection.
Both Banks and Macleod had begun writing poems while they were in high school together, but Banks stopped in 1981 for reasons unknown. Banks had expressed his wish to see both of their poems published together in 2012 before he had any inkling of his fatal illness. Late drafts of some Banks poems were discovered after his death and were included in the collection.
“I’m going to see if I can get a book of poetry published before I kick the bucket,” Banks told The Guardian.
“I’ve got about 50 I’m proud of.”
In April 2013, Banks announced that he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer of the gallbladder and that he wouldn’t likely live beyond a year. He said his forthcoming novel, The Quarry, would be his last, and that he was withdrawing from public life to be with family and friends. A little over a month later, Banks died on June 9, 2013.
Banks gained notoriety in 1984 with the publication of his first novel, The Wasp Factory. His first work of science fiction, Consider Phlebas, was published in 1987. The Times honored Banks in their list of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945” in 2008.
The Inquisitr cleared up a popular misconception that Banks’ career as a science fiction writer provided him with the financial support to pursue his literary pursuits when, in fact, the opposite was true.
“I think a lot of people have assumed that the SF was the trashy but high-selling stuff I had to churn out in order to keep a roof over my head while I wrote the important, serious, non-genre literary novels. Never been the case,” Banks said.
“The SF novels have always mattered deeply to me…and while it might not be what people want to hear (academics especially), the mainstream subsidized the SF, not the other way round.”
Macleod said in a February 16 post on Banks’ website that fans of Banks’ prose would identify with Banks’ poetry.
“Readers of Banks’s prose will find in these poems many aspects of his writing with which they’re already familiar,” Macleod said.
“A humane and materialist sensibility, an unflinching stare at the damage people can do to each other, a warm appreciation of the joy they can give to each other, a revel in language, a geologically informed gaze on land and sea,a continued meditation on what it means for us to be mortal embodied minds with a fleeting but consequent existence between abysses of deep time.”
[Image via The Guardian/Murdo MacLeod]