Saturday, February 19, 2011

Iain (M.) Banks

The author of both mainstream and science fiction novels (the latter distinguished by the use of the adoptive initial "M"), Scottish-born Iain Banks is a writer of power and imagination -- wicked, brilliant, deep imagination.

From his first infamous novel, The Wasp Factory -- the gruesome and humorous 1st person story of a 16-year-old psychopath -- to his quantum-thriller Transition Banks bends genres and breaks boundaries. He is best known, however, for his novels of the deep-future, ultra-technological utopia known as the Culture. Liberal to the point of anarchy; home to billions of humans, aliens, and hyper-intelligent AIs, all technologically empowered beyond the dreams of avarice; the Culture is a kind of anti-Star Trek meddling in the affairs of lesser societies for their own good. That Banks can repeatedly tell exciting, suspenseful stories of such powerful characters is a continuing testament to his own power. He has quickly become my favorite living SF author and I urge you to visit the Culture for yourself, it is truly a wonder-land.

The Culture novels (though presented here in published & chronological order) are self-contained books that may be read in any order:

Consider Phlebas (1987)

The Player of Games (1988)

Use of Weapons (1990)

Excession (1996)

Inversions (1998)

Look to Windward (2000)

Matter (2008)

Surface Detail (2010)

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