Yesterday we had the awful news that Iain Banks (The Wasp Factory, Whit), or Iain M Banks (Use of Weapons, Against a Dark Background) is, in his own words “officially Very Poorly.” In a moving statement on his website he explained that he had been diagnosed with terminal gall bladder cancer and had only “months” to live. He had married his long-term partner Adele and they are currently on honeymoon.
His website http://www.iain-banks.net/ promptly crashed under the weight of sympathy, and a guestbook has been opened for people to leave their messages of love and support at http://friends.banksophilia.com/
I was lucky enough to meet Iain Banks a few times, once at Newcon where I ran into him coming out of the toilets and managed to burble about how much I loved Excession before he had to hurry off to a panel; once at a signing at Forbidden Planet in Bristol, where without any prompting he plucked a handful of BristolCon flyers from my hand and proceeded to hand them out to everyone who got their books signed, telling them they should go (he wasn’t even going to be AT BristolCon, he just did it….).
The last time was at Waterstones last year, where he did a long Q and A session. He was funny, self-deprecating, and a very nice guy, and I’m so sad that he’ll never be GOH at BristolCon. Banksy, I hope you live out the rest of your days happy, full of whiskey and free from pain, and that when the end comes it comes quickly and painlessly, surrounded by people who love you.