I’m not all about the crime fiction, you know. I’m a big fan of science fiction as well, particularly the writing of Iain Banks, or Iain M Banks as his scifi work goes under. Banks is an enigmatic writer, essentially flitting between the two axes of his writing – the sprawling, wonderful space opera of his scifi from the Culture universe and others; and the mainstream fiction that has produced so many of my favourite novels – The Crow Road, Complicity and Dead Air to name a few. They’re never that clear cut – his mainstream has a huge amount of worldbuilding (and even a few notes examples of scifi in Walking on Glass, The Bridge and Transition) and his scifi is incredibly well-written and includes a narrative flair and humour you seldom see in the genre.
Banks is one of the reasons I write – seeing a fellow Scot making a living out of locally set (and galactically set) fiction is a tremendous inspiration. I may not write in the same style or genre but there’s a lot of Banks in my writing.
Anyway, the Guardian is running a Book Club on his Use of Weapons, a dense scifi mystery, and this week the great man himself goes through some of the themes and problems he had in writing it. What’s interesting is that he wrote it a full ten years before he was published (1984’s Wasp Factory) and he outlines the struggle he had to make it work (something I can associate with from the hell that was writing GHOST IN THE MACHINE) but also shows some of the personal perseverance it took for him to become a success.
And if you’ve never read Banks, you are in for a treat…