It was some years back now that, while wandering through the Wellington Central Public Library - before it moved out of the building now occupied by the National Art Gallery, I came across a strange book. 'Consider Phlebas' written by one Iain M. Banks.
Because I was trawling the recently returned shelves it was the name that first got my attention. (I have a terrible curiousity to see what other Banks' get up to.) The cover art snared me further with an unusual ship flying between two extremely large and obviously artificial objects. Finally the inside cover flaps' quick précis of the book clinched things when it talked of a massive war and of a refugee machine hiding from a hero out to capture it.
I put it in my bag, later checked it out of the library and began to read...
The end result was of that initial reading was a collection of all of Iain's books that I could get my hands on along with a subsequent redefinition of what I expected out of a truely classic science fiction story. His work has the power to imagine huge structures and conflict on a massive scale while, at the same time, making it seem so real.
He writes both fiction and science fiction with one important way to distinguish between them. All science fiction books are written by 'Iain M. Banks' while all the fiction works are written by an 'Iain Banks'. While I don't fully appreciate the reasons behind doing this, and it is quite intentional, it is useful to remember because it serves as an indicator of what the general aim of the story is but it also is quite good at confusing book stores who treat the two names quite distinctly.
Seeing as the author himself has divided the books into two classes I'll do the same with my list. Although I will further subdivide the science fiction novels into Culture and non-Culture works. Each book will have details about the book (name, publisher, ISBN number etc.), an image of the book cover (as an aid to scanning shelves looking for the book.) a brief précis of the novel (taken from the cover flap or back of the book.), a brief but complete summary of the stories events and finally comments on the story and general personal thoughts.
The hope is to allow readers to not only find out enough to find the books, but to introduce them to people who haven't met Iain's work before and finally to provide my own interpretation of the what the works are about.