Thursday, 29 November 2007

Iain M Banks

Just back from seeing him being interviewed by Farah Mendlesohn at Imperial, and us all eating curry afterwards. I can't write about Matter yet, though I don't think it's giving too much away to say that I think it's very good. What he certainly is is a star turn as a speaker. I particularly like his frank acknowledgement that a large part of the fun of science fiction rests on no more than naked wish fulfillment. Banks has no time, he claimed, for the Calvinist view that life is there to be endured. As long as your idea of fun isn't shooting up a school, why not have fun and realize your wishes?
That seems reasonable, though not in my view incompatible with a cheery sort of belief (Chesterton rather than John Knox, perhaps). It was nice to see a writer admit to the one thing that really marks the good work in the genre, and which almost everyone else denies hotly. If sf is going to work, you need to feel the writer thinks he's coming up with really cool stuff (even if he disapproves of it).