Artificial Life (2)
Game Theory (1)
Movie Reviews (67)
Outer Space (4)
Quantum Theory (5)
Special Relativity (1)
Science Fiction (4)
© Iain Banks
ARTICLE INFOBorn in Dunfermline Maternity Hospital, Fife, Scotland on February 16th, 1954 (at 04:10, if you must know). Middle name Menzies (pronounced Ming-iss by those wishing to be excruciatingly correct). Father able seaman in Admiralty (later became First Officer. Now retired), mother ex-professional ice skater. Only child, but both parents from large Scots families; numerous aunts and uncles and hordes of cousins. Family lived in North Queensferry, Fife; the young El Bonko's (derived from 'bonkers' many years ago, before 'bonking' was ever heard of) bedroom window looked out to the Forth Bridge. In 1963 family moved to Gourock, on the Clyde, where it rains a lot.
Iain Banks FAQ
added 2002 november 04 by Martin
Educated in North Queensferry and Gourock Primary Schools, Gourock and Greenock High Schools, and Stirling University (1972-1975; ordinary degree in English along with Philosophy and Psychology. Was there when The Queen Was Insulted, but playing ping pong at the time). Highlight of time at Stirling was spending a day on Sherrifmuir along with 149 other students as an extra in the final battle scene of 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail'. During vacations, worked in Greenock area as hospital porter, estate worker, pier porter (catching the ropes of the Clyde steamers on Gourock pier, hauling up gang planks; that sort of thing), road worker, dustman, and gardener.
Hitch-hiked through Europe, Scandinavia and Morocco in 1975. Worked for a year as a non-destructive testing technician for British Steel, spending some time at the Nigg Bay construction site (area helped inspire The Wasp Factory). Visited USA in 1978; drove from Washington DC to Los Angeles and only went above 55mph once. While in Washington, played front half of the Loch Ness Monster in a benefit revue to raise funds for a local puppet theatre (no, really). Returned to Scotland; spent six months working for IBM in Greenock; only really showed any dedication or zeal when trying to make sure that vital computer components urgently required in Cape Town or Johannesburg went via interesting places like Reykjavik, Anchorage, Ulan Bator...
Jobs got too hard to find in 1979, so moved to London to stay with some other Caledonian exiles. Found work there with a large firm of lawyers, as a costing clerk (drawing up narratives for enormous legal bills - arguably a good grounding in fiction writing all by itself). Moved to Faversham, Kent, in 1984 (when The Wasp Factory was published, on the day of his 30th birthday). Gave up day job.
Made attempt on the Most Penetrable Pseudonym world record in 1986, with the addition of the initial M (for Menzies) to name for the publication of first SF book. Started going to Science Fiction Conventions in 1986 (Mexicon 2) and hasn't looked back (or sober) since. So no change there.
Exploits since have included a very limited and perfectly controlled traverse of the south face of the Metropole Hotel, Brighton, at dawn one day during the '87 Worldcon, a minor event which has been completely blown out of all proportion ever since. So any stories you hear about Spiderman outfits, abseiling, police detention or a career as an international jewel thief can be instantly dismissed. The destruction, a few months later, of a gatepost, brick wall and stable-block gable end while simultaneously and almost instantaneously producing the prototype of the world's only mid-engined Volvo is another sorry dawn-time tale which has accrued a patina of the mythic, but is - sadly - mostly true. Moved to Edinburgh in January 1988. In June 1989, achieved the singular distinction of out-grossing VIZ comic, when they rejected a photo story on grounds of taste.
Sat in - in a rather unauthoritative way - on a Creative Writing class he was supposed to be teaching in the '90 and '91 Spring terms at Stirling university. (Despite this, mystifyingly, the university granted him an honorary doctorate in March 1 997, as did St Andrews, in January 97.)
Went back to his roots in December 1991, returning to the village of North Queensferry. Got married in March 1992 to a long-suffering lady who - probably wisely - wishes to remain in the background. Over the years has been invited to and attended various conventions, festivals and other literary beanos in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Finland, Canada, the USA and Australia, and ducked out of similar events in France, Denmark, China and Portugal.
Hobbies; driving (mostly too fast), motorcycle riding (mostly too slowly and in too low a gear) shopping, glen-walking (a gentler form of hill-walking), speculative sailing (Iain's pal Les: 'Banksie, we've been sitting here becalmed for the last two hours; let's start the engine.' Iain: 'Och but, look; there's a patch of sort of ruffled-looking water down the loch there; can't be more than a mile away. Let's just give it another couple of minutes...'), drinking, eating out (especially in Indian restaurants), reading, tinkering with MIDI stuff and playing games (badly). Worryingly, he has lately expressed an interest in learning to fly. And no, he isn't on the Net.