Wednesday, 12 June 2013

To Iain Banks – from your secret fan

Some of Iain Banks' SF books
One of my favourite SF writers Iain Banks has died from cancer, aged only 59. I thought it about time I wrote him a fan letter, so here it is.

Dear Iain Banks,

I had a dream last night where I was dancing on top of a high building, but everyone I knew was setting out on a long trek for the horizon. Although I had been enjoying myself, panic seized me, because my friends were all going to leave without me if I didn’t follow them. I prepared to jump off, then looked down and panicked again – the building was much higher than I’d thought, and there were a lot of strangers camped below, packed together like sunbathers on a beach so I couldn’t see a clear space to land. I rushed around the roof, checking all sides, and with every second the building grew higher and the people I knew got further away.

Then I spotted a small piece of empty sand, and (feeling a bit sick because by that time the roof was really high) made a leap for it. Part of the wall toppled down with me, and I worried about it crushing the people camped below as well as breaking my legs when I landed. Then I was down, perfectly balanced with knees bent to absorb the impact, the sand thankfully soft enough to cushion any bruises. Which is to say I survived the fall. I woke up at that point, needing to write this farewell letter to you.

I think you must be one of those who has gone to the horizon. And though you never knew me and will never read this letter, you did once sign a copy of your book “Excession” for me at Hay-on-Wye, inspiring this shy new sf/fantasy writer to follow in your footsteps.

Here’s the proof:

It turns out you were only 8 years older then me, and that is too young to die. Why is it that I am still here, able to dance on the roof whenever I want? Whereas you, who should still be up there dancing for your legion of fans, has left on a journey where none of us can follow?

Rest in peace, Iain Banks. I am still reading the books you left behind.

Your secret fan,


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