Andy McKay

Apr 06, 2013

My first Iain Banks book

Fuck every cause that ends in murder and children crying.

Iain Banks, Against a Dark Background

It was my first job out of university and I was working at company in London. A bizarre place as it turned out and a job I didn’t really enjoy much. It seemed to have some great people and some rather more eccentric ones. I did enjoy that I’d landed in the coolest department of all, my boss was a laid back guy who was obsessed with music, sports and popular culture. Unfortunately I’ve never been able to talk about sports, especially the most recent exploits of his football team, Chelsea.

One day I lamented that I’d run out of books to read and asked for suggestions. Within moments I had a copy of Complicity in my hands.

The book showed me what was to become a trait of Iain Banks. Well paced, witty, intelligent, thoughtful and completely impossible to put down. I tore through Complicity in a matter of days. I recommended it to anyone who’d listen.

Being a science fiction fan I quickly moved onto his Culture work. I was soon working my way through Consider Phlebas, Use of Weapons and his old works. The Culture series highlighted his focus on powerful vision of humanities future and present.

You need to read more science fiction. Nobody who reads science fiction comes out with this crap about the end of history.

Iain Banks

Later I got introduced by the same people to Douglas Coupland and Colin Bateman. I couldn’t talk about sports or music too much with my boss. But we talked about books all the time.

It’s now 18 years later and Iain Banks is dying. I’ve read every Iain Banks book since and my book shelf is full of them.

His last announcement matched his writing. To the point, dry humour and lack of self-pity.

I hope the time he has left is well spent.