"iain banks"

Fully Automated Small Screen Luxury Communism: Amazon is making a TV show out of Iain Banks's Culture novels

The late, lamented Scottish writer Iain Banks (previously) was several kinds of writer, but one of his main claims to fame is his role in developing the idea of fully automated luxury communism, in his beloved Culture novels, a series of wildly original space operas about a post-singularity, post-scarcity cooperative galactic civilization devoted to games, leisure, and artistic pursuits, populated by AIs, city-sized space cruisers, spy networks, and weird bureaucracies. Read the rest

In defense of left-wing space utopias

Brianna Rennix wants to know why the major current in "space utopianism" is right wing -- Elon Musk floating a "creepy private colony on Mars for ultra-rich survivalists who can shell out $200,000 for their spot" and punched Nazi Richard Spencer bloviating, "We weren’t put on this earth to be nice to minorities, or to be a multiculti fun nation. Why are we not exploring Jupiter at this moment? Why are we trying to equalize black and white test scores? I think our destiny is in the stars. Why aren’t we trying for the stars?" Read the rest

Bookworm rugs

The Bookworm Rug (100% woven polyester) come in 2' x 3' ($28), 3' x 5' ($58) and 4' x 6' ($79), and feature a selection of spines from some rather good books, including Iain Banks's debut "The Wasp Factory" some Virginia Woolf, Charles Bukowksi and Haruki Murakami. (via Bookshelf) Read the rest

Found planetscapes: macro photos of dried up single-malt whiskey

Photographer Ernie Button noticed that the sediment from dried up single-malt at the bottom of his glasses was extraordinarily beautiful and set about creating a set of gorgeous, interstellar-looking photos documenting the residue from different whiskies. Read the rest

How to control mice with your mind

Imagine never having to take a pill again for anxiety, depression, or your heart condition. Imagine epilepsy or Parkinson’s disease being managed by the patient without drug interventions. What if control of these conditions were possible with a thought? Kiki Sanford reports on the advent of mind-genetic interfaces.

Mammoth, previously unpublished interview with Iain Banks about The Culture

Niall sends us, "a newly-published 5,500 word interview with Iain Banks, conducted by Jude Roberts in 2010 as part of her PhD on The Culture, and includes discussion of how themes of gender, embodiment and violence work themselves out in his novels; published as bonus content for this year's fund drive for Strange Horizons." Read the rest

This Day in Blogging History: Iain Banks doesn't write sf for the money; T-Minus: graphic history of the space race; Yummy lo-carb cicadas

One year ago today Iain Banks doesn't write sf for the money: I think a lot of people have assumed that the SF was the trashy but high-selling stuff I had to churn out in order to keep a roof over my head while I wrote the important, serious, non-genre literary novels. Never been the case, and I can’t imagine that I’d have lied about this sort of thing, least of all as some sort of joke. The SF novels have always mattered deeply to me – the Culture series in particular – and while it might not be what people want to hear (academics especially), the mainstream subsidised the SF, not the other way round.

Five years ago today T-Minus: graphic novel tells the history of the space race: Jim Ottaviani's new science history graphic novel, T-Minus: The Race to the Moon, is a fast-paced, informative recounting of the events beginning with the launch of Sputnik, the first human-made satellite on Oct 4, 1957, to the first human landing on the moon on July 20, 1969.

Ten years ago today Cicadas, the new no-carb/hi-protein snackin' sensation: Those gazillions of "Brood X" cicadas unearthing themselves this month also double as an Atkins-compliant meal-on-the-go. Cicada McBuggets, anyone? Read the rest

Infamous imaginary games from science fiction

Austin Grossman, a novelist and game developer who worked on Ultima Online, Tomb Raider, Thief and Dishonored, is a fan of imaginary games. They're at the center of his latest novel, YOU, just out in paperback, which revolves around a decades-long quest by a group of friends to realize the ultimate game, bringing them fortune, fame, death, misery, love and adventure. Here he offers a tour of his favorite games from the parallel worlds of film and fiction.

Iain Banks's The Quarry, his final novel

When Iain Banks announced in April that he was dying of gall bladder cancer, he said that his forthcoming novel The Quarry would be his last. I've just read it, and though I came to it with high expectations, I find that I was still surprised by just how good this novel is, and how it revisits so many of the motifs from Banks's earlier novels, and what a spectacular blend of emotions it carries.

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Ken Macleod on Iain Banks

CBC radio's excellent magazine show As It Happens conducted a short, lovely interview with Scottish sf writer Ken Macleod about Iain Banks, who had been his friend since high school. It's a beautiful piece of audio, and a heartfelt one. My condolences, Ken. Read the rest

Detailed obit of Iain Banks

Iain Banks died yesterday. The Guardian's John Mullan does justice to the long and important career of one of the best writers in two fields:

In 2010 he gave an interview to BBC Radio Scotland in which he spoke with painful frankness about the breakdown of his relationship with his first wife. But then the media interview seemed his natural forum: it is difficult to think of a more frequently interviewed British novelist.

While his science fiction spanned inter-stellar spaces, his literary fiction kept its highly specific sense of place. The place that gives the title to his 2012 novel Stonemouth is fictional, but, like other fictional places in earlier Banks novels, it is a highly specific Scottish town. Like The Crow Road and The Steep Approach to Garbadale –it is the story of a man coming back to his family home, and it is difficult not to think that this is Banks's story of himself.

Iain Banks dies aged 59 Read the rest

Iain Banks, 1954-2013

Iain Banks, author of bizarre literary novels and visionary science fiction, is dead at 59.

Barely weeks ago, Banks announced that he was a cancer patient and that his latest book would be his last. Yesterday, the Sunday Times published an interview with Banks, in which he discussed the disease's impact and how it took form as The Quarry, which will be released June 20. Read the rest

Iain Banks doesn't write sf for the money

SF/thriller writer Iain Banks has weighed in to quash a rumor that he only wrote his amazing SF novels to pay the bills because the (also amazing) high-brow literary thrillers didn't bring in enough:

I wish I did have the time to reply to everybody individually but I don’t. I think I’ll only comment on any of the posts if there’s something factually wrong mentioned in them, and so far the only point I can remember is one where an ex-neighbour of ours recalled (in an otherwise entirely kind and welcome comment) me telling him, years ago, that my SF novels effectively subsidised the mainstream works. I think he’s just misremembered, as this has never been the case. Until the last few years or so, when the SF novels started to achieve something approaching parity in sales, the mainstream always out-sold the SF – on average, if my memory isn’t letting me down, by a ratio of about three or four to one. I think a lot of people have assumed that the SF was the trashy but high-selling stuff I had to churn out in order to keep a roof over my head while I wrote the important, serious, non-genre literary novels. Never been the case, and I can’t imagine that I’d have lied about this sort of thing, least of all as some sort of joke. The SF novels have always mattered deeply to me – the Culture series in particular – and while it might not be what people want to hear (academics especially), the mainstream subsidised the SF, not the other way round.

Read the rest

Iain Banks: I'm dying of cancer, this book will be my last

Sad news: Iain M Banks, beloved author of brilliant science fiction novels and (to my taste), even better thrillers, has terminal gall bladder cancer that has spread to his liver, pancreas and lymph nodes, and is unlikely to live for more than a year (and he may live for less time). He posted the news early today, in a statement that's bravely and darkly humorous, as befits his work and his reputation:

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 family. 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.

There is a possibility that it might be worth undergoing a course of chemotherapy to extend the amount of time available. However that is still something we’re balancing the pros and cons of, and is anyway out of the question until my jaundice has further, and significantly, reduced.

Lastly, I’d like to add that from my GP onwards, the professionalism of the medics involved – and the speed with which the resources of the NHS in Scotland have been deployed – has been exemplary, and the standard of care deeply impressive.

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Iain Banks terminally ill

One of my favorite authors, Iain Banks, announced that he has less than a year to live "It looks like my latest novel, The Quarry, will be my last." Read More. Read the rest

Michael Moorcock's new New Worlds is go!

Geoffrey sez, "In April of 2011, Boing Boing posted that Michael Moorcock's New Worlds was coming back to life. Well, Issue 1 went live this past October. The website is slick and the stories are great, there is only one problem: no one seems to know that New Worlds has returned. I know Boing Boing hates to see the good citizens of the interwebs miss out on anything grand, so I had to pass this along."

And it is grand. There's an essay by Iain Banks on Ayn Rand and L Ron Hubbard, ferchrissakes (but the annoying regwall is really annoying).

Michael Moorcock's New Worlds Read the rest

Notorious financier gets a "super-injunction" prohibiting the press from revealing that he is a banker

Fred "the shred" Goodwin, who presided over the collapse of the Royal Bank of Scotland and is now collecting a £200,000/year pension at taxpayer's expense (over and above his £3m bonus) for his work in helping to destroy one of Britain's great financial institutions, has secured a "super-injunction" prohibiting the press from discussing his affairs. The injunction also prohibits the press from disclosing that it exists (hence "super-injunction") and from mentioning any facts about Goodwin's life, up to and including the fact that he is a banker.

The super-injunction came to light when a LibDeb Member of Parliament (who is covered by Parliamentary privilege which exempts him from the injunction) asked a question in the Commons about it. The Telegraph lists more rich, powerful people and corporations who've gotten these gag-orders, including a philandering "sportsman" and a TV personality. The hearings at which courts award these super-injunctions are sealed, so the press can't report what evidence is presented in favor of the official censorship.

He said: "In a secret hearing Fred Goodwin has obtained a super-injunction preventing him being identified as a banker.

"Will the government have a debate or a statement on freedom of speech and whether there's one rule for the rich like Fred Goodwin and one rule for the poor?"

Leader of the House Sir George Young said a forthcoming Westminster Hall debate would explore freedom of speech, adding: "I will raise with the appropriate minister the issue he has just raised."

The terms of the injunction are so strict that the Daily Telegraph cannot reveal the nature of the information that Sir Fred Goodwin is attempting to protect.

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