I am officially Very Poorly.
After a couple of surgical procedures, I am gradually recovering from jaundice caused by a blocked bile duct, but that – it turns out – is the least of my problems.
I first thought something might be wrong when I developed a sore back in late January, but put this down to the fact I’d started writing at the beginning of the month and so was crouched over a keyboard all day. When it hadn’t gone away by mid February, I went to my GP, who spotted that I had jaundice. Blood tests, an ultrasound scan and then a CT scan revealed the full extent of the grisly truth by the start of March.
I have cancer. It started in my gall bladder, has infected both lobes of my liver and probably also my pancreas and some lymph nodes, plus one tumour is massed around a group of major blood vessels in the same volume, effectively ruling out any chance of surgery to remove the tumours either in the short or long term. The bottom line, now, I’m afraid, is that as a late stage gall bladder cancer patient, I’m expected to live for ‘several months’ and it’s extremely unlikely I’ll live beyond a year. So it looks like my latest novel, The Quarry, will be my last.
Banks, 59, rose to prominence with the publication of his first, controversial novel, The Wasp Factory, in 1984. In 1987 he began publishing science fiction under the cunningly impenetrable moniker 'Iain M. Banks' (M stands for Menzies), and has, for most of his career, alternated SF and non-SF work (although several of his non-SF works have strong genre elements). In SF he is best-known for his nine Culture novels, a sequence of stand-alone novels set in an AI-run, utopian interstellar society often forced to resort to shady activities to keep it safe. Banks has twice won the BSFA Award and has been nominated for the Locus and Hugo Awards. His novel The Crow Road has been adapted as a BBC mini-series, whilst Complicity has been made into a film.
Banks has approached the news with his traditional gallows humour and put the best spin possible on it, but by any standards this is devastating news. Definitely one of the British lit scene's most interesting authors (in any genre).