Thread: Iain (M?) Banks

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  1. #1
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    Default Iain (M?) Banks

    I'm currently reading 'Walking On Glass', one of Iain Banks' mainstream novels (although there does seem to be a fantasy element running through it!) and it's occurred to me that I've nearly read all of his books. I had a look at his Wiki entry:

    His mainstream ones (published as Iain Banks) are:

    The Wasp Factory (1984)
    Walking on Glass (1985)
    The Bridge (1986)
    Espedair Street (1987)
    Canal Dreams (1989)
    The Crow Road (1992)
    Complicity (1993)
    Whit (1995)
    A Song of Stone (1997)
    The Business (1999)
    Dead Air (2002)
    Raw Spirit (2003) (travelogue)
    The Steep Approach to Garbadale (2007)
    Transition (2009)
    And the Iain M Banks:

    Consider Phlebas (1987)
    The Player of Games (1988)
    Use of Weapons (1990)
    Against a Dark Background (1993)
    State of The Art
    Feersum Endjinn (1994)
    Excession (1996)
    Inversions (1998)
    Look to Windward (2000)
    The Algebraist (2004)
    Matter (2008)
    Of these, I think my favourites are The Wasp Factory, Excession (the first one I read!) Whit and The Player of Games, though I think most of his sci-fi ones are brilliant. The only one I wouldn't rate is Against A Dark Background, which was rather dull towards the end. I didn't think much of 'A Song of Stone' at the time either, even though I got a signed copy when he did an event at WH Smiths in Guildford.

    His novels cover so many different areas and different styles. There are a few recurring themes, most usually separated and slightly insane families, which run through all his strands of fiction. He's also great at places, whether it's the wilds of Scotland or a GSV (one of the vast intelligent spaceships that run the Culture) I always feel as though I can see the place he's talking about.

    But he's great on all fronts, characters, twists, thrills, plotting; he's simply a brilliant novelist. His new novels are always worth looking forward to.

    So have you read any Iain Banks? If not, perhaps you should!
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    Yes I've read a fair bit of his work. The first book of his I read was The Player of Games which I loved. I have a soft spot for non sci-fi stuff especially The Crow Road and The Wasp Factory. I also always thought that Consider Phlebus would make a great film.

    I did struggle with the Algebraist for some reason though.

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    And I really didn't like Complicity.

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    I really, really like his non SF stuff best. in fact I'd go as far as to say he's favourite author of all the many authors I've ever read.

    As people who've been paying attention know, The Crow Road is my favourite novel ever. Whether it's because it's actually wonderful or because I was exactly the right age and in the right frame of mind for discovering it in the summer of 1995, I don't know, but it had a profound effect on me then that I've never quite got managed to get into words. There was just something so "right" about it. A very special novel for me, and although I love it, I'm afraod to re-read it in case I don't find it so special second time round.

    I've read all the non SF ones and have only really been disappointed by A Song of Stone, which I just couldn't get my head around. I adored The Steep Approach to Garbadale and Espedair Street, loved The Business and Whit and was fascinated by The Wasp Factory.

    I've only read two M Banks novels- Use of Weapons which i just didn't get and The Player of Games which was rather good, but really I don't think I'm a huge SF fan, so they just may not be for me.

    So yes, Iain Banks, genius.

    Si xx

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

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    I'd forgotten about Espedair Street. Thats really good fun.

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    Which is the one with the willy in the jar?

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    That'd be the first one, The Wasp Factory. Which also features the kid with maggots growing in his brain.
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    And wasps. Lots of wasps!

    Si xx

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

  9. #9

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    Espedair Street is a particular favourite of mine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SiHart View Post
    As people who've been paying attention know, The Crow Road is my favourite novel ever. Whether it's because it's actually wonderful or because I was exactly the right age and in the right frame of mind for discovering it in the summer of 1995, I don't know, but it had a profound effect on me then that I've never quite got managed to get into words. There was just something so "right" about it. A very special novel for me, and although I love it, I'm afraod to re-read it in case I don't find it so special second time round.
    It too is one of my favourite books. Part of it was just that I got it thinking it was sci-fi/fantasy (it was in that section), so I was kind of at an excited unease throughout because a lot of wierd things happen, but often just short of fantastic.

    But as the book is all about Prentice's struggle as a young 20-something to shift into gear between being a child, and becoming an adult - I think everyone would identify a bit with the pain he goes through. He falls in love, but sees the object of his love run off with someone else. He's kind of failing at University, and through the course of the book turns it around. His dad is an athiest and trying to control him into believing the same things he does, without being allowed to freedom to make up his own mind, sometimes quite tactlessly (over the death of his friend).

    And of course throughout the book it's obvious that Prentice and his friends are Star Wars fans, and there are lots of fan-ish moments throughout the book. Something of course the BBC ditched in the TV series ... although we did get the guy out of Victory of the Daleks!
    Remember, just because Davros is dead doesn't mean the Dalek menace has been contained ......

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    Walking On Glass was extremely weird in the end! And very downbeat. I guess Mr Banks might have been quite depressed when he wrote it, but you never know.

    It's made up of three distinct strands; Graham's story, which is about unrequited love, Grout's story, which is about paranoia and Quiss's story, which is seriously surreal and about playing endless incomprehensible games in a castle constructed out of books. Between them they might all be about the futility of existence and the disillusionment of fantasy worlds, but there are so many things going on and it's so inconclusive that it's hard to tell.

    It's inconclusive, but it's still a satisfying read. There are many meanings that can be drawn out of it and there are loads of fascinating ideas. It's great fun spotting the links and parallels between the stories. And the conclusion to Graham's story is heartbreaking, moving and then brutally shocking.
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    Some news about Iain Banks which has made me and Si both very sad today.

    http://t.co/d0KjJFXcyG

    Apparently he's got several months to live. Really, really awful. His last few novels have been superb as well, in fact pretty much all his novels. He was a great guy whenever I met him at signings / panels etc too.
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    I just don't believe it. It will be such a huge loss. My very favourite writer. I'm stunned

    Sent from my LT15i using Tapatalk 2

    I've just got my handcuffs and my truncheon and that's enough.

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    Pity. I have no understanding of the word. It is not registered in my vocabulary bank. EXTERMINATE!

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    http://io9.com/11-rules-of-good-writ...-his-512191076

    Good article about Iain's writing on Io9.
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  17. #17
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    Iain Banks died last Sunday, just before the publication of his final novel The Quarry. Last month he talked to Stuart Kelly (from the Guardian) about writing, politics and all the things still left to do . . .

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013...inal-interview

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