I am an eclectic reader of science fiction, preferring so-called “hard” science fiction to other forms, which means I regularly find myself reading more militaristic stuff, which can get old after a while — there’s just so many ways to do space battles or to portray maneuvering of fleets and armies. I came across Iain Banks’ science fiction by happenstance, wandering into a bookstore on a London side street in 1997. I can’t remember now which book of his I bought then: it might have been _The Player of Games_. I have been an avid reader ever since, and I have enjoyed every single one of his permutations of The Culture, even those books which were clearly written in the absence of The Culture or from the other side of it or in the shadow of it.
It was, then, with great sadness that I learned that he has a form of cancer that leaves him with little time. There is incredible grace, and humor, in his approach: he asked his long-time partner to become his future widow. For those who want some sense of him as a person, and I confess this is the first time I have ever watched him myself, the [BBC has an interview with him from 2010](http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-11569184). The interviewer, like most non-American journalists, asks some interesting questions. Two of which are:
* Banks’ favorite novel: Joseph Heller’s _Catch 22_
* The novel he recommends to friends: Alan Moore’s _Voice of the Fire_
*Moore*, in Banks’ Scottish accent, is rendered as moo-r. It took me a while to catch it.