Very sad news. Iain Banks, who is possibly my favourite author, has announced that he has been diagnosed with late stage cancer of the gall bladder, and has only months left in this world.
I met him once, briefly, at Ilkley Literature Festival. Just long enough to exchange a few words, and for him to sign my copy of "The Steep Approach to Garbadale", my favourite of his non sci-fi books.
I've read his entire sci-fi output, written as Iain M Banks, and the vast majority of his "mainstream" output, written as plain Iain Banks. I've loved every word and, however erroneously, I feel as though I know him a little.
So, perhaps my sadness at this news is a little selfish, and perhaps I am just mourning all the Culture novels that will now remain unwritten. But I would still like to say thank you to Iain Banks.
For every one of the many hours of pleasure that his books have brought to me, for every time that I've laughed out loud at the subtle jokes that fill his work, and for the good ship Experiencing A Significant Gravitas Shortfall. Thank you sir, and thanks again - I'll miss you.
For the rest of you, if you haven't read one or both of the two books whose pictures I've included above, read them! You won't regret it.