Yesterday I pre-ordered Iain Bank's last book The Quarry, today I learnt via Neil Gaiman that he had died, shortly I will be on a priority booking line to secure a ticket for the first opera based on his Wasp Factory. Back in April he posted this on his web site:
I have cancer. It started in my gall bladder, has infected both lobes of my liver and probably also my pancreas and some lymph nodes, plus one tumour is massed around a group of major blood vessels in the same volume, effectively ruling out any chance of surgery to remove the tumours either in the short or long term.
The bottom line, now, I'm afraid, is that as a late stage gall bladder cancer patient, I'm expected to live for 'several months' and it’s extremely unlikely I'll live beyond a year. So it looks like my latest novel, The Quarry, will be my last.As a result, I've withdrawn from all planned public engagements and I've asked my partner Adele if she will do me the honour of becoming my widow (sorry – but we find ghoulish humour helps). By the time this goes out we'll be married and on a short honeymoon. We intend to spend however much quality time I have left seeing friends and relations and visiting places that have meant a lot to us. Meanwhile my heroic publishers are doing all they can to bring the publication date of my new novel forward by as much as four months, to give me a better chance of being around when it hits the shelves.
His publisher brought it forward but missed by two weeks the opportunity for him to see it on the shelves. I remember back in 1984 reading his first novel The Wasp Factory and being captivated by the power, the twist that ends the story and the sheer imagination. Thereafter I bought each of his books as they came out. In 1997 as Ian M Banks he wrote Consider Phlebas and thereafter followed one of the great science fiction series of all time, with The Culture one of the most interesting civilisations to come from the pen of any writer.
He was my age which gives one a sense of mortality, but he was one of the great writers of his or any generation. Read and remember and regret what we have lost as a person, and what is lost to literature.
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