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Ian M Banks. The greatest science fiction writer ever?

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Posted on 26 Jul 2012 18:40:25 BDT
S. S. Baker says:
The greatest science fiction writer ever has not yet been born - pretty much by definition. Banks' world-building is exquisite and filled with breathtaking imagination and he's a much more accomplished writer than any of the current batch of techno-wranglers. Excession is a masterpiece - if you didn't get it first time around, read it again.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Jul 2012 08:25:55 BDT
Guy Roberts says:
I wholly agree. Julian May's Mileu Trilogy and the associated Saga of teh Exiles are truly outstanding - the finest SF ever written. Her other works are very run of the mill and not worth reading in my opinion.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Jul 2012 00:14:07 BDT
Last edited by the author on 24 Jul 2012 00:39:17 BDT
Julian May was mentioned... much more convincing than Tolkein surely, for a start, her characters are actually believable people. Totally agree, they are great books.

Unlike "The Rampart Worlds" series, oh dear. What happened there?

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jul 2012 23:04:54 BDT
He is good, but not the best. See: Joe Halderman,

Posted on 11 Apr 2012 00:56:56 BDT
Tifrap says:
Got to say that Iain M Banks is the only author that I have to buy the hardback edition of, because I can't wait for the paperback (even though I hate reading hardbacks). There is one part in Excession that amazes me because it actually forces time to speed up. I wish he would write something that concentrates on the extraordinary lives of the culture ships and their enigmatic names/psychological states - although thinking about it, it is perhaps the fact that I feel the need to join up the clues in the snippets of the culture that makes me feel so involved in these stories, in a sense for every book IMB writes, I have to make up another.
Anyway, getting to the point, while I think IMB is a great, I spend the gaps reading the work of Adam Roberts, who is about as prolific and also has a dual output (scifi & spoof).
At best AR's books are lean and well humoured as Banks' the early high concept works 'Salt' 'Stone' 'On' 'Snow' are as inventive and don't suffer from the soapiness that some space operas develop. I find that these books fit in well with the mindset that a IMB novel leaves me with. Some I have found it very hard to buy, mainly because of the reviews or the title for instance 'Yellow Blue Tibia', it sounded dull and it was, despite winning an award. One real surprise though was 'New Model Army' - crap title (especially for those that remember the band of the same name), appalling cover design, but a flowing book with ideas worthy of sharing shelf space (or flash card memory) with Banks.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Mar 2012 16:12:33 GMT
N. Messenger says:
It would be tricky to cast Horza though right? Cos he's a shape-changer.
Or does that make him phenomenally easy to cast?
Brad Pitt one minute, Ralph Fiennes the next. Expensive though.

Posted on 12 Mar 2012 13:11:17 GMT
Ken O'Neill says:
As Garscadden says, start with "Consider Phlebas", but "Use of Weapons" (no article mate) is even better. Also, it's not officially a "Culture" novel, but "The Business" suggests where The Culture might have got started.

Anita, "The Wasp Factory" is a very one-off book. If you'd like to try something that's more normal, more Scottish and not SF, try "The Crow Road" and/or "Espidair Street". Both recommendations from someone who grew up near Paisley, and actually on the one of the roads mentioned in The Crow Road.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Mar 2012 20:24:56 GMT
Garscadden says:
I may have said this before - but I think The Use of Weapons is one of the best books I've ever read. In genera I prefer IB's non-Sci Fi books, or the even better - Walking on Glass :)

I do think he is one of those people though that people have very high expectations of - it's not like they are actually the peak of human achievement. They are *just* sci fi books, he is *just* a reasonably good author. (Just trying not to bring expectations back to a more fulfillable level).

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Mar 2012 20:14:05 GMT
Anita says:
I did exactly that. Believe me or not, haven't read Iain Banks yet, with the exception of Wasp Factory. Consider Phlebas just arrived, can't wait for a not-so-busy day to start reading

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Mar 2012 19:08:18 GMT
Thanks, I'll check it out.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Mar 2012 18:56:34 GMT
Garscadden says:
I think starting with Consider Phlebas and reading the first few in published order is probably works best.

Posted on 11 Mar 2012 18:29:04 GMT
Can anyone recommend an Iain Banks book for a first timer? I guess I like more moderate SF if you know what I mean but have heard great things about him - just can't choose where to start!

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Mar 2012 20:23:32 GMT
dazzlin says:

Posted on 6 Mar 2012 09:26:31 GMT
Cartimand says:
Surprising that none of the IMB sci-fi epics has been given the movie treatment yet. I reckon Consider Phlebus would look terrific on the big screen if handled respectfully. Who would you cast as Horza?

Posted on 5 Mar 2012 13:46:52 GMT
Last edited by the author on 5 Mar 2012 13:54:27 GMT
Cartimand says:
The only other sci-fi author whose work grabbed my imagination like IMB was Philip José Farmer. To Your Scattered Bodies Go can certainly compare with Consider Phlebus but, given that José Farmer died a couple of years back, I would have to agree with the statement that Banks is the greatest living sci-fi author.

Posted on 5 Mar 2012 04:59:48 GMT
Ilovemycat says:
He's amazing, but I think his "mainstream" stuff is even better. The Wasp Factory, Walking on Glass and The Bridge are three of the best books I've ever read.

Posted on 4 Mar 2012 21:59:04 GMT
Bigdawg293 says:
He's right up there. Surface Detail was the best sci-fi book I read in 2011. Amazing! I also love Reynolds and Hamilton.

Posted on 2 Mar 2012 20:45:04 GMT
Ged says:
Yes, Banks is brilliant. World class. Amazing really when you know he only writes S.F. part time. However, if you follow the tale of Severian the Torturer in Gene Wolfe's Book fo the New Sun, it will stay with you forever. Sheer class bettered only by the best of Vance.

Posted on 27 Feb 2012 15:07:40 GMT
N. Messenger says:
I will always have a soft spot for I.M. Banks in my reading life. Perhaps that is because of when I began reading his books.
For me his books lost their sparkle after 'Excession' but I do remain a fan.
Isn't it about time that the 'Culture' lost once in a while?
I am becoming wearied by their continual smug victories. What's the point? Are they invincible?

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Feb 2012 23:08:04 GMT
Tanstaafl says:
@M Richards
You may be correct; I stopped at Dhalgren, but it was Nova, the Einstein Intersection and Babel-17 that turned me on to Science Fiction when I were a lad ...

And of course 'pile of dross' is a particular personal view

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Feb 2012 15:02:13 GMT
SF fan says:
By Wasteland I mean The Dark Tower!

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Feb 2012 22:43:15 GMT
Except for his latest work, which is a pile of dross...

Posted on 25 Feb 2012 16:46:42 GMT
Tanstaafl says:
Samuel R. Delany ftw

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Feb 2012 14:52:35 GMT
SF fan says:
listmania - yes do

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Feb 2012 14:49:06 GMT
SF fan says:
Thanks for the post I am a great Simmons fan (love the Keats character) and Stephenson but have never read The Dervish House or Light - will rectify that immediately!
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Initial post:  18 Aug 2010
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