Hard, these days, to maintain the illusion that finishing my new short story collection is important or critical or matters in the slightest.
Not after hearing the terrible news about Iain Banks' inoperable bladder cancer.
Banks is a marvel, possessing one of the most enormous and densely populated imaginations I've ever encountered. His books, both mainstream and genre fiction, maintain the highest possible literary standards. Even his "lesser" offerings are still usually far superior to 99% of the stuff the rest of the scribblers in the world are excreting.
The Wasp Factory, his first novel, is one of the greatest debuts in English language literature of the past 100 years. It's unbelievably gripping, right from its opening lines. And if you bent my arm behind my back and forced me to name two other Iain Banks titles I consider essential, I'd choose the first "Culture" novel, Consider Phlebas and his very best SF effort, Excession.
I'm not sure in my peculiar theology if it's allowed or encouraged to pray for miracles, but Iain Banks is one guy I'd love to have around for a good deal longer than a year. Prolific, intelligent, inspired; he's the type of writer who seizes hold of all the senses and whose canvas seems unimaginably vast, every inch of it richly colored and textured.
I shall hope for the best and, meanwhile, as I wrote on his tribute page, it's been an honor sharing a universe with him.
Truly, a writer for the ages.
Causes Cliff Burns Supports
The Stephen Lewis Foundation, Community Radio