My point has always been that, ever since the Industrial Revolution, science fiction has been the most important genre there is.
– Iain Banks
After writing his first novel at the age of 16, Scottish author, Iain Banks went on to become one of the most influential science fiction writers of his generation. After university he worked in a series of jobs before deciding to pursue a full time career as an author after the success of his first published novel The Wasp Factory in 1984.
The Wasp Factory follows sixteen year old Frank, living on a secluded Scottish Island. While the novel centres around few characters, mainly because Frank finds them neither interesting nor important enough to discuss in much detail, Frank’s character is so complex and enthralling, it is more than enough to keep you hooked throughout.
The plot is disturbing enough in itself, but when told from Frank’s perspective with his twisted logic and the casual way he talks of committing horrific acts such as murder, as though it’s perfectly natural and everyone does it, it really adds something a little special thank only Iain Banks can really deliver.
I killed little Esmeralda because I felt I owed it to myself and to the world in general. I had, after all, accounted for two male children and thus done womankind something of a statistical favour.
– The Wasp Factory
3 years after the release of his first book, Banks then published his first science-fiction novel under the name Iain M. Banks.
I love writing and can’t imagine not being able to do it. I want an easy life and if it had been difficult I wouldn’t be doing it. I do admire writers who do it even though it costs them.
– Iain Banks
His science fiction collection, The Culture, follows a society where humans are free to do whatever they please, in one sense it seems like paradise. However, there are still organisations within this society which leads to conflict and problems – because how fun would a book just set in paradise really be?
It’s no small feat for an author to create a believable and thoroughly enthralling universe, such as this, but Banks does it with the same skill and flair he puts into his literary fiction collection.
Over his career he wrote 26 novels of both literary and science fiction in his own unique style; often combining dark and often controversial subjects with his distinctive style of humour.