Science fiction lost Scottish author Iain M. Banks to gall bladder cancer on June 9, just over two months after he announced that he had been diagnosed with the disease. Banks began publishing fiction in 1984 with his non-genre novel The Wasp Factory. His first science fiction novel, Consider Phlebas, was published three years later. To help draw a distinction between his genre and non-genre work, Banks used his middle initial on covers to indicate that a work was science fictional in nature.
Banks was born in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland, on February 16, 1954. He moved to London in 1979 and wrote several short stories before publishing The Wasp Factory allowed Banks to turn to writing full time. Consider Phlebas launched Banks’s long-running Culture series, a society formed by a variety of humanoid races and artificial intelligences. The stories span 1500 years, nine novels, and several short stories. In addition to his Culture tales, Banks wrote the Against a Dark Background, Feersum Endjinn, and the Hugo nominated The Algebraist. He also published a collection of three short stories set in his Culture universe.
Banks was also well-known for his non-genre novels, which included his The Bridge, Transition, and The Business, as well as his debut novel. Espedair Street and The Crow Road were adapted by the BBC for television and radio, respectively. He received the BSFA Award for his novels Feersum Endjinn and Excession, as well as the Kurd-Laßwitz-Preis for The Wasp Factory and the Premio Italia for Inversions.
Banks was scheduled to be a guest of honor at Loncon 3, the 72nd World Science Fiction convention in London, from August 14-18, 2014. Following his diagnoses, Banks announced he would be unable to attend and Loncon 3 stated that they would continue to honor his life and work in their programme and exhibits.
His final novel, The Quarry, a non-genre book about dealing with cancer, was written prior to Banks’s own diagnosis. After Banks was diagnosed with cancer, the publication date was moved forward to June 20 in the hopes that Banks would live to see the novel’s release.