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Iain Banks Responds To Fans

Novelist Iain M. Banks shared an update on his condition with fans this week. The novelist recently revealed that he is battling advanced cancer with doctors predicting he has ”several months” to live.

He has worked to write admiring letters to his favorite writers, including M. John Harrison and Alasdair Gray. He added:

I want to say thank you to all of you for your messages, your memories, your wit, your sympathy and your kind, supportive thoughts. It means a lot, almost more than I can say, and – whatever type or size of screen I read the comments on – I come away from the computer, laptop, iPad or phone with a happy smile on my face.

His letter to fans also addressed comments about his book sales. Banks made it clear that the bulk of his sales rested in the mainstream fiction realm, rather than the science fiction realm. He explained:

Until the last few years or so, when the SF novels started to achieve something approaching parity in sales, the mainstream always out-sold the SF – on average, if my memory isn’t letting me down, by a ratio of about three or four to one. I think a lot of people have assumed that the SF was the trashy but high-selling stuff I had to churn out in order to keep a roof over my head while I wrote the important, serious, non-genre literary novels. Never been the case, and I can’t imagine that I’d have lied about this sort of thing, least of all as some sort of joke. The SF novels have always mattered deeply to me – the Culture series in particular – and while it might not be what people want to hear (academics especially), the mainstream subsidised the SF, not the other way round.

Photo credit: Ray Charles Redman

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