Scottish crime and science fiction novelist Iain Banks, author of the critically acclaimed The Wasp Factory, died on Sunday, June 9, aged 59, from terminal cancer of the gallbladder.
The Wasp Factory, which was his first published novel, appeared in 1984. As a first novel by an unknown author, the book was initially greeted with a mixture of acclaim and controversy, due to its gruesome depiction of violence. A 1997 poll of over 25,000 readers listed The Wasp Factory as one of the top 100 books of the 20th century.
Banks divided his writing career between literary novels and science fiction, the latter appearing under the name “Iain M Banks,” the acclaimed author sometimes spoke of his science fiction books as a writerly vacation from the demands of literary fiction, where he could “pull out the stops.”
Friend and fellow Scottish author Ian Rankin told the BBC he believed Bank’s best work could still have been ahead of him. “The writing still excited him, the ideas still excited him, there was no shortage of ideas, he wasn’t coming to the end of his time as a writer,” he said.
The literary world paid tributes to Banks; Banks’s publisher stated that the author was “an irreplaceable part of the literary world,” a sentiment that was reaffirmed by author and friend Ken MacLeod, who observed that Banks’s death “left a large gap in the Scottish literary scene. British author Charles Stross wrote, “One of the giants of 20th and 21st century Scottish literature has left the building.”