Scottish novelist and SF icon Iain Banks released an announcement on Wednesday that he has late stage gall bladder cancer and only expects to survive for several more months. As a result, he has married his partner Adele and is currently taking a short honeymoon. He has cancelled all of his public speaking engagements, and his publisher Little Brown will push up the publication of his last novel, The Quarry, by four months to give him a better chance of seeing it on the shelves.
Although Banks is a famous eccentric who doesn’t spend time online himself, he provided the statement to his long-time fan website as well as to a newer website where friends and fans can leave messages and get news about his progress.
The 59-year-old writer is both the prolific Scottish novelist Iain Banks who burst onto the literary scene in 1984 with The Wasp Factory and the stunning re-inventor of the modern space opera who entered the field at the top with the publication of his first SF novel, 1987’s Consider Phlebas.
But Banks is best-known in science fiction as the creator of the post-scarcity Culture series, which in novels like Use of Weapons took on the difficult task of trying to create suspense in a highly advanced universe where many of humanity’s problems had already been solved.
He’s known as much for his inventive sense of humor as his ability to create suspense. The names of Culture spacecraft are funnier than the names of thoroughbreds. “Of Course I Still Love You,” “Unfortunate Conflict of Evidence,” and “Very Little Gravitas Indeed” are just three semi-random examples.
Frankly, much of what passes for science fiction in the popular media is a pale shadow of what comes out of Banks’ pen.