Here’s a short but sweet piece on Banks by crime writer Ian Rankin:
My fellow writer and occasional drinking companion Iain Menzies Banks died on 9 June 2013. When his cancer was diagnosed in the February of that year he emailed friends to share the news. The email was typical Iain – not at all downbeat or maudlin; almost jaunty, in fact.
He made sure that by the time word got out to the public at large, he and his partner Adele were outside the UK and away from the media glare, leaving some of us to meet at our spiritual home – the Abbotsford bar on Edinburgh’s Rose Street – to shake our heads and mutter the usual well-meant cliches. Iain wouldn’t have wanted to hear any of it, and when he eventually did join us for what turned out to be a last session together, we spoke mostly of other things, though he did joke about his jaundiced colouring, comparing himself to Grandpa Simpson.
I think there may be something about writing science fiction (or maybe just being scientifically literate) that makes you a positive person where it counts. Even though what I write isn’t what anyone would call utopian, I’m severely allergic to the strict negativity about the future I read and/or hear on a daily basis. It seems Banks was positive despite a nightmare diagnosis. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be scared of the future, to not look forward to it, but I get the feeling more people than not are scared. And voicing this fear is sad, not to mention cowardly and counterproductive to what being human is all about.
We live in a world of cancer, war, racism, politicians, lobbyists, money, famine, superstition, and proud ignorance. I’m so sick of people who want to cling to this era, like this is the paragon of human existence, like this isn’t just another historical trend that will pass. Anyone who wants humanity to become stagnate needs a swift kick to the head. Fuck the people and the politicians who oppose progress and change, and fuck the politicians who use these words as nothing more than slogans.
Yeah, I’m in an angry mood today, but I feel I’ve been assaulted (insulted) by constant cynicism and ignorance when it comes to viable solutions to the world’s problems. We need more people like Banks, damn it. There are too many kids out there in danger of being infected by their parents’ negativity. Negativity breeds inactivity.
I love characters who punch their problems in the face, movies that "normal" people think are stupid, cheap coffee, and plain T-shirts. In case you're wondering why I'm cranky, I haven't smoked a cigarette since September 12th, 2015.
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