Iain Banks

The literary community is sending off author Iain Banks, who passed away this weekend of cancer at age 59. Banks was known for both mainstream fiction (his final novel, “The Quarry,” ironically featured a main character’s decline from cancer) and genre SF.

A sampling of tributes:

Neil Gaiman, in The Guardian: “He was one of us, whatever that meant … his work was mordant, surreal, and fiercely intelligent. In person, he was funny and cheerful and always easy to talk to. He became a convention bar friend, because we saw each other at conventions, and we would settle down in the bar and catch up.”

Jake Kerridge, in The Telegraph: “When I interviewed Iain Banks last year about his novel Stonemouth he very kindly responded to some of my more outlandish suggestions about what the book might symbolise by saying that “half the fun of writing a novel is finding out from other people later on what you actually meant.”

John Scalzi, on his blog: “Although I don’t know him, as a fan I want to thank him for being a wonderful writer and storyteller. I will continue to visit and wonder at his universes, and will be glad he left me ways to get to them. He is, and will remain, in my thoughts.”

As sad as this news is for readers who loved his work, the comfort seems to be that he went out the way he wanted to: when the news was announced, he cancelled all his remaining engagements, married his long-time partner and announced he would spend his remaining months visiting his friends and family one last time. His final book is due out this week.

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