Last year, I was shocked to read that Iain M. Banks announced that he had cancer and was going to die within months. I had first come across him when I picked up Consider Phlebas, and several of its sequels when my Waldenbooks shut down and liquidated its stock: his books were among the first that I grabbed and stuck in the backroom to hold while we waited for the store to close. I really enjoyed the novel, although I’ve yet to really pick up any of the others. I was fascinated by the depth and breadth of the Culture.
Banks plays a critical role in the resurgence of space opera in England, leading a number of other well-known authors such as Alastair Reynolds, Peter Hamilton, Stephen Baxter and others around the 1990s. Space opera is a type of story that’s not been well received, and Banks sort of bridges the gap between authors such as Arthur C. Clarke and C.J. Cherryh and those such as James S.A. Corey.
Go read The Culture of Iain M. Banks over on Kirkus Reviews.
This isn’t new, but I just came across this short film called Something Real. It’s a fan film based on Iain M. Banks Culture novels.
[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]
Iain M. Banks’ Consider Phlebas was published in 1987, the first book written of what would come to be known as the Culture sequence (or cycle). Released just this year, The Hydrogen Sonata marks the tenth book in the long running, award winning Space Opera series. But what makes for a good Culture novel, what is the secret to Banks’ longevity?
We asked this week’s panelists…
Q: In celebration of Iain Banks’ CULTURE series, what do you think sets this work apart from other space opera fiction? What specifically makes for a good CULTURE novel and why?
Here’s what they said…
I’m going to be honest and note that the reason that I read the Culture novels are not for the stories themselves — which are very good, mind you — but because I like wandering around the books like a tourist, gawking at all the cool shit that’s in the Culture. So I suppose what I really want is an “encyclopedia of The Culture” sort of book with pretty pictures and maps and a timeline and crap like that. Which is the exact opposite of a novel. I’m not sure if this makes me a bad reader of Culture novels or just a highly specialized one. What I do know is that I’m always looking out for the next one. So for me, what makes a good Culture novel is that Iain Banks has finished it and his publisher has offered it up for me to buy.