I’m incredibly saddened today by the news of Iain (M.) Banks’ terminal cancer. The cancer is too spread for any kind of surgery and they have to wait for the jaundice to pass before they can enter into chemotherapy.
I am officially Very Poorly.
After a couple of surgical procedures, I am gradually recovering from jaundice caused by a blocked bile duct, but that – it turns out – is the least of my problems.
I first thought something might be wrong when I developed a sore back in late January, but put this down to the fact I’d started writing at the beginning of the month and so was crouched over a keyboard all day. When it hadn’t gone away by mid February, I went to my GP, who spotted that I had jaundice. Blood tests, an ultrasound scan and then a CT scan revealed the full extent of the grisly truth by the start of March.
I have cancer. It started in my gall bladder, has infected both lobes of my
liver and probably also my pancreas and some lymph nodes, plus one tumour is massed around a group of major blood vessels in the same volume, effectively ruling out any chance of surgery to remove the tumours either in the short or long term.
The bottom line, now, I’m afraid, is that as a late stage gall bladder cancer patient, I’m expected to live for ‘several months’ and it’s extremely unlikely I’ll live beyond a year. So it looks like my latest novel, The Quarry, will be my last.
Iain proposed to his partner in such a way that I very nearly cried.. “I’ve asked my partner Adele if she will do me the honour of becoming my widow (sorry – but we find ghoulish humour helps).”
There are tweets from all sorts of people (publishers, readers, comedians..) leaving their best wishes and sorrows and many fans are honouring Iain by using the hashtag #BanksRespect in their related tweets.
Personally, I have so far only read The Wasp Factory and always fully intended to read onwards to The Crow Road and his sci-fi stuff. I can remember sitting in A-level English Lit when we were all discussing The Wasp Factory and a regular supply teacher came in and told us that Iain Banks is a pyromaniac which influenced The Wasp Factory. I still don’t know if this tidbit was a tall tale or true but it has always stuck with me. I also remember when I used to watch The Book Show on Sky Arts before we moved and Iain was on as a guest promoting one of his Culture novels. He said that science fiction is the most important genre as it is our future. Even though I’m not much of a sci-fi reader, I’ve been inclined to agree with him, it makes sense. Iain Banks is a great writer and a good man. It’s time to show him how much he means to his readers.
A website has been set up to keep us informed of what Iain wants us to know with a guestbook for everybody to leave their thoughts with him. Also, over at Fantasy Faction in June, the Sci-Fi book club will be reading an Iain M. Banks novel. Whether you are currently a member of Fantasy Faction or not, please come along and join in. The best way to honour a terminally ill man is not to grieve before the time but to celebrate him and Fantasy Faction welcomes everybody.
My best wishes to Iain Banks and his family.