Dead Air is a Scottish novel by Iain Banks, published in 2002. The book revolves around the life of Ken Nott, a radio DJ on a London station called Capital Live! The first person narrative begins on 11 September 2001, Banks uses the protagonist's conversations - both on the radio and off - to discuss the consequences of the terrorist attacks in the United States on that day. Ken Nott is at a loft party in London at the crucial moment; the reader hears many of Nott's shock-jock lines and sees him described as a sexually promiscuous party animal fuelled by alcohol and other drugs. His politics are left-wing and libertarian, he rants at every chance. Nott's various girlfriends, his long-suffering radio show colleague Phil, his black DJ friend Ed are described. Apart from the expected difficulties associated with being a politically controversial radio DJ, everything is going smoothly for Ken until he meets Celia, a gangster's wife, who he falls in love with. An indiscretion with a mobile phone and an answering machine leads him into some difficult and frightening situations.
The book was not well received by critics. While Banks' story-telling skills were acknowledged, some felt that this was less satisfying, in contrast to Look to Windward, his previous book. Like The Business, Dead Air is topical, with much detailed background on technology and contemporary political issues. "Major rethink on format after the events of September the eleventh," Phil says, about a delay to a television show they are planning. "What a brilliant excuse that's turned out to be, for so many things." The cover of the novel conjures images of the attack as it shows an old picture of two of the chimneys of London's Battersea Power Station with an aeroplane above them. Critics charged that Banks used the dramatic events of 9/11, other features of the early 21st century, more as wallpaper than in any meaningful or resonant way. Critics felt that Banks did not establish a distance between his own voice and that of the protagonist. Nott's rants are passionate and articulate; some of these political ideas are developed further in Raw Spirit.
Ken Nott resembles a happier version of Cameron Colley, the main character in Banks' earlier novel Complicity. 2002, UK, Little Brown, Pub date?? 2002, hardback Guardian review 14 September 2002
Inversions is a science fiction novel by Scottish writer Iain M. Banks, first published in 1998. Banks has said "Inversions was an attempt to write a Culture novel that wasn't." The book takes place on a fictional planet resembling late-Middle Ages Europe. A large empire broke up in the decade or so preceding the action from meteor or asteroid strikes that affected farming across much of the globe; the remnants of the empire still war with one another. The narrative alternates chapter-by-chapter between two concurrent story-lines, with alternating chapter headings of The Doctor and The Bodyguard; the first storyline is presented as a written account from Oelph, publicly a doctor's assistant, but a spy for an individual identified only as "Master", to whom much of the account is addressed. Oelph is the personal doctor to King Quience of Haspidus and a woman; the latter is unheard of in the patriarchal kingdom, is tolerated only because Vosill claims citizenship in the far-off country of Drezen.
The King himself is appreciative of her and her talents, but nonetheless her elevated position in defiance of the kingdom's social mores inspires hostility among others of the court. Oelph's account follows Vosill as she attends to the King as well as more charitable ministrations to the impoverished and those in need, her methods are unconventional by kingdom standards, for example forgoing the use of leeches and instead using alcohol to " the ill humours which can infect a wound," but are more than not successful. This only serves to inspire more distrust amongst her detractors, notably including a number of Dukes as well as the King's Guard Commander, Adlain. On this topic, Oelph includes a transcript he claims to have found in Vosill's journal, purported to be an exchange between Duke Walen and Adlain in which they make an agreement, "should it become necessary", to covertly kidnap the lady doctor and have Nolieti, the King's chief torturer, "put her to the question." Oelph notes that while the transcript appears to have been obtained under impossible circumstances, he somehow does not doubt its veracity.
While Vosill attends to the King, Nolieti is murdered, nearly decapitated by his assistant Unoure. Vosill examines the body and determines that Unoure could not have killed his master, but her explanation is disregarded. Unoure is captured, but before he can be questioned he is found in his cell dead from a cut throat self-inflicted. Following this account Oelph includes another found transcript, this time between Walen and Duke Quettil, though Walen is unable to obtain Quettil's agreement for the use of Ralinge, his own chief torturer, in Walen's kidnapping plan; some days at a masked ball Walen is found murdered, this time by a stab to the heart. The Duke's murder disquiets much of the royal house, as it occurred in a room no one entered or left. Resentment towards Vosill continues to build after King Quience begins implementing somewhat radical reforms, such as permitting commoners to own farmland without the oversight of a noble and the creation of city councils, reforms which Vosill has discussed with the King publicly and at length.
Following these reforms Vosill confesses to the King that she loves him, a sentiment he rebuffs, further informs her that he prefers "pretty, delicate women who no brains." Oelph finds her after this and hints at his own feelings of love towards her. Some days Vosill receives a note from Adlain, asking her to meet him and two other Dukes elsewhere in the castle, she leaves alone. Vosill and Oelph are immediately delivered to Ralinge, who binds the two separately and strips, intending to rape, Vosill; the woman issues what sounds to Oelph like commands, albeit in a language he does not recognize partially. Oelph's eyes are closed at this point, in his narrative he is unable to adequately describe what he hears next, other than an impression of wind and metal; when he opens his eyes he finds Ralinge and his assistants dead, dispatched bloodily, Vosill free and in the process of removing her bindings, no indication of how she was freed. She claims that Oelph fell unconscious and the three men fought over who would rape her first, though she indicates to him that this is what he "should" remember.
The two are taken from the torturer's chamber shortly thereafter, as the King has abruptly taken ill and appears to be dying. Vosill is able to cure King Quience's condition, is there to witness as the conspiracy against her is revealed to the King, when news of Ralinge's death reaches the conspirators: Commander Adlain and Dukes Quettil and Ulresile; the blame is publicly taken by Ulresile, who escapes with being exiled for several months. Because Oelph is not present for these events, his account comes second-hand from servants present. Vosill requests the King release her from her duties, she leaves just a few days on a ship for Drezen, is seen off at the dock by Oelph. Oelph tries to suppress the urge to ask to accompany Vosill, since he knows that her answer will be in the negative, but in the end he does so anyway; the ship leaves sometime Vosill nowhere to be seen on board. The second, interleaved storyline is told by an unna
The State of the Art
The State of the Art is a short story collection by Scottish writer Iain M. Banks, first published in 1991; the collection includes some stories published under his other byline, Iain Banks as well as the title novella and others set in Banks' Culture fictional universe. Road of Skulls A Gift from the Culture Odd Attachment Descendant Cleaning Up Piece The State of the ArtAt 100 pages long, the title novella makes up the bulk of the book; the novella chronicles a Culture mission to Earth in the late 1970s, serves as a prequel of sorts to Use of Weapons by featuring two of that novel's characters, Diziet Sma and the drone Skaffen-Amtiskaw. Here, Sma argues for contact with Earth; the ship Arbitrary has ideas, a sense of humour, of its own.'Also while I'd been away, the ship had sent a request on a postcard to the BBC's World Service, asking for'Mr David Bowie's "Space Oddity" for the good ship Arbitrary and all who sail in her.' It didn't get the request played. The ship thought this was hilarious.'ScratchOR: The Present and Future of Species HS Considered as The Contents of a Contemporary Popular Record.
Report Abstract/Extract Version 4.2 Begins. "A Gift from the Culture" - published in Interzone #20, Summer 1987 with illustrations by SMS. "Odd Attachment" - published in the anthology Arrows of Eros, Alex Stewart 1989, New English Library, ISBN 0-450-50249-X. "Descendant" - published in the anthology Tales from the Forbidden Planet, Roz Kaveney 1987, Titan Books, ISBN 1-85286-004-9. "Cleaning Up" - published in a limited edition of 500 by Birmingham Science Fiction Group as the Souvenir Book for Novacon 17 when Banks was Guest of Honour. "Piece" - published in The Observer Magazine on 13 August 1989 with illustrations by Peter Knock. The State Of The Art - An original edition appeared in 1989 as a separate book; the cover art was by Arnie Fenner, a limited edition of 400 books in a slipcase appeared, signed by both artist and author. "Scratch" - published in The Fiction Magazine vol. 6, No. 6, Jul/Aug 1987. The collection was published in the US in 2004 by Night Shade Books, in hardback and limited editions.
The limited edition contains work by Banks not found in the UK version. A Trade Paperback edition was printed in Canada in 2007 by Night Shade Books, It contains the additional text'A Few Notes on the Culture' The non-SF stories in the collection are the only ones he has published under his Iain M. Banks name, only used for his science fiction. "Piece" was adapted by Craig Warner for BBC Radio 5 and broadcast on 6 June 1991. It was directed by John York; the cast included: Munro - Bill Paterson Jack - Harry Jones Eve/Voice - Susan Sheridan"The State of the Art" was adapted by Paul Cornell for the Afternoon Play slot on BBC Radio 4 and broadcast on 5 March 2009. The adaptation was directed by Nadia Molinari and the main cast was: The Ship - Antony Sher Diziet Sma - Nina Sosanya Dervley Linter - Paterson Joseph Li - Graeme Hawley Tel - Brigit Forsyth Sodel - Conrad NelsonIn late 2009 it was announced that the story "A Gift From the Culture" was in the early stages of being adapted for the cinema by Dominic Murphy, the director of White Lightnin'.
Danny Yee's review Reviews The State of the Art, Iain M. Banks, London: Orbit, 1991, ISBN 0-356-19669-0
Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks is a science fiction novel in his Culture series, first published in the UK on 7 October 2010 and the US on 28 October 2010; the events of Surface Detail take place around 2970 AD, according to Banks. The events occur six to eight hundred years after the "Chel Debacle", depicted in the earlier novel Look to Windward, set seventy-eight years after the events in Use of Weapons; each chapter of the book covers one or more of the six main protagonists—Lededje Y'breq, a chattel slave. Some of the plot occurs in simulated environments; as the book begins, a war game—the "War in Heaven"—has been running for several decades. The outcome of the simulated war will determine whether societies are allowed to run artificial Hells, virtual afterlives in which the mind-states of the dead are tortured; the Culture, fiercely anti-Hell, has opted to stay out of the war while accepting the outcome as binding. Vatueil is a soldier who has fought his way up the ranks of the war game to a position where he can determine policy.
He is instrumental in the decision to cheat—first by attempting to hack into and subvert the war-game, when this fails by moving the simulated war into the real world. Prin and Chay belong to a species that use the threat of Hell to control the behaviour of their population. While still alive, they enter the Pavulean Hell on a mission to reveal the existence and details of this Hell to the general population. Prin succeeds in getting out, but has to leave his partner Chay behind, where she is subsequently tortured, restored to some semblance of sanity, given a role as an angel in Hell, able to release one soul a day by killing them. Prin testifies to the Pavulean parliament of his experience in Hell and attempts to convince them that it should be abolished. Veppers is the richest individual in the multi-planet Sichultian Enablement. Y' breq, a frequent victim of rape by Veppers, is murdered by him, she is unexpectedly reincarnated aboard a Culture ship, having been secretly implanted with a neural lace some ten years before.
She wants to return to her homeworld, to find and kill Veppers. The book hinges on Veppers' involvement in the War in Heaven, he appears to be a bit-player, but his involvement is revealed to be more and more critical. The final revelation is that he has made some of his fortune by providing the hardware to run the Hells of various species; the hardware is located on his country estate on the planet Sichult. He sets up a secret deal to have the Hells destroyed in an attack, to be blamed upon the Culture, his motivation is that such an attack will release him from his contracts to run the Hells, which would have become worthless if the anti-Hell side won, but which he cannot wriggle out of in any other way. Y'breq travels back to Sichult on the Falling Outside The Normal Moral Constraints, an advanced and "very psychotic" Culture warship. In hot pursuit is Yime Nsokyi, a Culture agent tasked with preventing Y'breq from killing Veppers; as they and their ships arrive, things come to a head. The Culture agents conspire to arrange that the attack on Veppers' estate destroys the Hells, while appearing to attempt to stop the attack.
They conspire to ensure that Veppers' secret deal is revealed. Veppers himself is at the estate's mansion during the attack, where Y'breq finds him for the final, showdown; the epilogue reveals Vatueil's identity as Zakalwe, using an alias, an anagram of Livueta, the character in Use of Weapons whose forgiveness Zakalwe sought. Roz Kaveney of The Independent said that this was a poor book to introduce new readers to the Culture, but "far from the worst introduction to Banks's series." Alastair Mabbott of The Herald describes the story as having "murder, revenge and subterfuge taking place against a backdrop of escalating tension stands up well, makes the prospect of further books in the Culture series somewhat less imposing." UK book review site The Bookbag remarked that "... What sets this book apart is the quality of the writing and the depth of the author's imagination." Simulated reality Simulated reality in fiction
Walking on Glass
Walking on Glass is the second novel by Scottish writer Iain Banks, published in 1985. Banks wrote several more novels before his death in 2013, including several acclaimed science fiction novels that formed the Culture series. Walking on Glass is formed of three storylines that do not appear to be linked, but come together; the extent to which these stories are interconnected is dependent on how into the book the reader is willing to read. Each part of Walking on Glass, apart from the last, is divided into three sections, which appear at first sight to be independent stories. Two of the stories are set in and around Islington in North London, the other is set in the far distant future. Graham Park is a young man in love with a girl he met at Sara ffitch. Richard Slater is his friend. Bob Stock, a "macho black-leathered never-properly-seen image of Nemesis" seems all that stands in the way of Graham's happiness. Steven Grout is a paranoid roadmender who believes himself to be an admiral from a galactic war imprisoned in the body of an Earthman.
He believes he is under constant threat from the Microwave Gun, reads lots of science fiction, since "he had long ago realised that if he was going to find any clues to the whereabouts of the Way Out, the location or identity of the Key, there was a good chance he might get some ideas from that type of writing." Quiss is one of a pair of war criminals from opposing sides in a galactic war, who are imprisoned in the Castle of Bequest and forced to play impossible games until they can solve the riddle: "What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?"Eventually, links between the three storylines become apparent. Quiss's Gothic castle is a combination of Mervyn Peake. After saving Quiss from suicide Ajayi reads the titles of the books on the wall: "Titus Groan, she read, talking to herself; the Castle, The Trial" Iain Banks commented that the book "didn’t do what it set out to do and I think you have failed to an extent if the reader can’t understand what you’re saying. I worry sometimes that people will read Walking on Glass and think in some way I was trying to fool them, which I wasn’t."
1985, UK, Macmillan Pub date 7 March 1985, hardback
Complicity is a novel by Scottish author Iain Banks. It was published in 1993, its two main characters are Cameron Colley, a journalist on a Scottish newspaper called The Caledonian, which resembles The Scotsman, a serial murderer whose identity is a mystery. The passages dealing with the journalist are written in the first person, those dealing with the murderer in the second person, so the novel presents, in alternate chapters, an unusual example of an unreliable narrator; the events take place in and around Edinburgh. Colley is a "Gonzo journalist" with an amphetamine habit, living in Edinburgh, he smokes cigarettes and cannabis, drinks copious amounts of alcohol, plays computer games, has adventurous sex with a married woman, Yvonne. He tries half-heartedly to give them up occasionally, he reflects on his awful experience of witnessing the aftermath of the massacre at the'Highway of Death' in the Gulf War, covers the deployment of HMS Vanguard, Britain's first Trident nuclear missile submarine.
He thinks. He has mysterious deaths of his own to worry about, when an editorial he wrote years before comes back to haunt him. In it, he suggested that certain named capitalist and right-wing public figures would be better hate-figures than the conventional ones of foreign leaders or domestic criminals, it seems someone is killing off the people on one by one. The description of the murders is done in a detailed manner. Under suspicion by the police, Colley finds himself involved doubly in the bizarre murders when the killer is revealed. At the end of the book, Colley is diagnosed withlung cancer. Banks claimed in an interview that Complicity is " bit like The Wasp Factory except without the happy ending and redeeming air of cheerfulness"; the themes of violence and substance abuse in the book, along with the grim ending, seem to point to Banks' growing pacifism. Significant sections of the novel are written in second-person narrative. There are scenes in the book telling of the main character's time at university.
While the University isn't named the description of the locale points strongly at this being Stirling University, where Iain Banks was himself a student. A motion picture called Complicity based on the novel was filmed in 2000. Complicity, Iain Banks, Little and Company 1993, ISBN 0-349-10571-5 Iain Banks's Complicity: A Reader's Guide, Cairns Craig, Continuum International Publishing Group 2002, ISBN 0-8264-5247-7 An extract from the book was published in the Spring 1993 edition of the magazine Granta Best of Young British Novelists 2, ISBN 0-14-014059-X with the title Under Ice. Mystery guide review Review
Espedair Street is a novel by Scottish writer Iain Banks, published in 1987. The book tells the story of the rise to fame of Dan Weir, a bass guitar player in a rock and roll band called Frozen Gold, of his struggles to be happy now that he is rich and famous. Two days ago I decided to kill myself. I would walk and hitch and sail away from this dark city to the bright spaces of the wet west coast, there throw myself into the tall, glittering seas beyond Iona to let the gulls and seals and tides have their way with my remains, in my dying moments look forward to an encounter with Staffa’s six-sided columns and Fingal’s cave. Last night I decided to stay alive. Everything that follows is... just to explain. Weird starts out in the Ferguslie Park area of Paisley in a underprivileged Catholic family, he is impressed by a group named Frozen Gold when he sees them live, in the Union of Paisley College of Technology, auditions with them. Christine Brice likes his songs, he joins the band, he ends up writing all their material and playing bass guitar, as the band rises in the drug- and booze-fuelled rock and roll of the 1970s, assisted by A&R man Rick Tumber of ARC Records.
In the Three Chimneys tour, singer Davey Balfour takes Dan along on an attempt to break an unofficial speed record for flying around three power station chimneys in Kent in his private aeroplane. He reminisces about this from 1980s Glasgow, where he lives as a recluse in a Victorian folly since the tragic events which led to the demise of the band, he is posing as his own caretaker, his friends McCann and Wee Tommy know him as Jimmy Hay. After a memorable fight in a nightclub called'Monty's', his real identity is revealed, he has grown uncomfortable with fame and wealth, visits his first girlfriend, Jean Webb, now living in Arisaig. The band is loosely modelled on Pink Floyd or Fleetwood Mac although Banks has said that the character of Weird was in part inspired by Fish, the ex-Marillion singer and lyricist. Sex and rock and roll are present on every page, sometimes all three at once. There is a tone of rock journalism in the parts of the book about Frozen Gold. Coincidentally, onetime aspiring rock musician Sandy Robertson, who became a well known rock journalist at Sounds magazine, lived in Espedair Street in the early 70s before the book was written.
As Banks' first novel to eschew'special effects', not being Gothic horror like The Wasp Factory, a literary mystery, or science fiction, most critics regard it as one of his most accessible works. Espedair Street is a real street in Charleston, where some of the significant events in the book take place. Espedair Street, Iain Banks, London: Macmillan, 1987, ISBN 0-333-44916-9 A four-part BBC radio adaptation of the novel was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in January 1998. Textualities review