There Is A Light
He had that effect on people. He was a fierce and fearless champion of what he thought was right, and for all his self-deprecation was serious about his work, but he was also amusing, tolerant, witty, and overflowing with curiosity and good humour. As Simon Ings wrote, in his excellent appreciation, Iain had no side to him. What he was was what you got. I was lucky enough to interview him at the Hay Festival, once upon a time, and he treated his fans exactly as he treated the great and good of the literary world: as fellow human beings. Like all great writers, he was intensely interested in people, and (like Charles Dickens, like Stephen King) wrote about them and the worlds they inhabited with a clear, direct, colloquial and unmistakable voice.
I last talked to him a few weeks ago, and was glad of the chance; despite the mortal seriousness of his prognosis, he was still cheerful, and witty, and fully engaged. But I also remember another night, back in Scotland, in the 1990s, when Pat Cadigan and I gave readings at one of the Waterstones on Princes Street. Banksie turned up, quite unexpectedly, and took us out to dinner, and plied us with champagne ('because why not?'), and we all had a fine time, and that was how he was. A great writer, and a good and generous man, and now his big bright bold boisterous light has gone out, too soon, too soon.
Iain Menzies Banks, 1954 - 2013