Iain M. Banks died today, in my mind Iain is one of the few people who was capable of building a world so vast yet so detailed that it would take a life time to understand the ramifications and practicalities of living in this kind of pan-galactic near-post-physical civilization.
Iain masterfully takes you through a single thread introducing ideas and concepts that underpin something much larger than the story itself. He does this again and again, winding threads together to build a book.
Beyond my awe of Banks’ world building and book writing skills, there are some very specific things that he introduced to me that have contributed to me as a person:
- Out of Context Problems exist; whether these are the September 11th attacks, the arrival of a new and totally unexpected person in your life or the realization of the value of Graphene in material sciences. These are things that change the world in an unpredicted and unprecedented way.
- Interpersonal relationships only get more complex in space; let’s face it interpersonal relationships are complex on one planet with one species. Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Hawking have explored this through fiction and theory Banks addresses it again and again through his books both insightfully and amusingly.
- When compared to the speed of light we move slowly; in Surface Detail Bank’s describes an intricate battle involving the complete destruction of many ships only to explain that the entire battle started and ended within a fraction of a second. This is a fact of life for us.
I am glad I discovered Iain M. Banks, and I am grateful to the man who introduced him to me. I believe Iain will live on through the pages of his book long after we have all turned to star dust.