One of our favourite science fiction authors, Iain M Banks, has posted this very sad update online concerning his recently diagnosed terminal illness…
Well, what an odd old time it’s been. I’m now a married man – again – and I’ve been truly stunned by the response to the original press release we put out on March 3rd – cunningly timed to hit the outerweb just as we were heading away on honeymoon to mostly-sunny-with-a-touch-of-rain Venice and then mostly-rainy-with-a-touch-of-sun Paris. Even after we had, technically, arrived back home it was still a few more days before I could lay my tousled locks on our own pillows; I had to get off the train at Waverley station on Thursday and head straight to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary after feeling distinctly dodgy in Paris that morning. I was kept in until Tuesday (though I did have a day pass that let me come home for a while over Sunday/early Monday … nothing about any of this is simple … ). The upshot is that a partial blockage of the stent that was emplaced earlier appears to have been dealt with in a procedure that took place on Monday afternoon and my bilirubin levels have started to come down again.
Anyway, I’m back home now, after a basically brilliant honeymoon/holiday and a good-as-it-could-be stay at the very shiny and expertise-stuffed ERI. I had some work to do on the new novel while we were away, both in Venice and Paris, plus I was – mostly – keeping pace with and replying to all the direct emails I was getting. Meanwhile Adele was monitoring all the posts on the Banksophilia site, set up for us by our good pal Martin Belk. Adele has read out many of the posts and I’ve read a few off the screen. I will read all of them all, in time.
Those offering medical advice – especially those with links to tests and trials and published papers and so on – will be looked at seriously; both Adele and I intend to do some proper research here. There are also a few people I’ve lost touch with over the years that I hope to get back to direct. And I am, of course, deeply happy that I have attracted the attentions of a few of our – how can I put this politely? – more rationality-challenged friends. To have stirred up none at all would have been almost suspicious. Mostly, though – good grief! – what an outpouring of love, affection and respect. I honestly had no idea. Of course I’ve always known I have a fair few fans, and I’ve always been a fan of my fans – certainly of those who turned up at signing sessions, bookshop events, literary festivals, library gigs and so on.
The people I spoke to on these occasions always seemed bright, clever, highly informed and sometimes worryingly more intelligent than me (see – somebody really intelligent would have written “I” there). As well as displaying immense good taste in literature, obviously. However. Discovering the sheer extent and depth of the feelings people have expressed on the message board over the past two weeks has been truly astounding. I feel treasured, I feel loved, I feel I’ve done more than just pursue the craft I adore and make a living from it, and more than just fulfil the only real ambition I’ve ever had – of becoming a professional writer. I am deeply flattered and touched, and I can’t deny I’ve been made to feel very special indeed.
At the same time, though, I’d like to think that it’s like this for every author, to a greater or lesser degree; we’ve each engendered more love out there than we think we have, and it’s only the fact that I’ve been able to pre-announce my own demise that has allowed me to realise my portion of that love in full while I’m still around to appreciate it. Which has got me thinking; I need to tell other writers how much their work has meant to me while they are (and I am) still alive. Means writing yet more letters, but I feel it’d be hypocritical of me not to, now. I think I’ll start with the amazing Mr Alasdair Gray. Either way. The point is that I owe you all a huge thanks for the witty, poignant, beautiful, heartfelt, insightful, touching and just funny things you’ve said about my work on Banksophilia. It’s been a delight. I’ll continue to post the occasional update for as long as I’m able.
You can post any private messages to Iain for him to read on his guestbook over here. There’s not much more to say about this, really. A star fades in the firmament.