Iain M. Banks  by Paul Kincaid  Modern Masters of Science Fiction Illinois University Press 2017  Hb: $95 / £82 Pb: $22 / £18.99  order here US  /  order here UK

Iain M. Banks
by Paul Kincaid

Modern Masters of Science Fiction
Illinois University Press

Hb: $95 / £82
Pb: $22 / £18.99
order here US / order here UK

Kevin Kelsey at Heradas

A concise yet comprehensive literary analysis on the works of the late Iain Banks. Kincaid’s writing functions primarily through illustrating and deconstructing the thematic lineage and interplay between Banks’ novels published with and without the M, but also delves into the deeper political and societal backdrop in which Banks’ wrote and lived.

Andreea at Infinite Text

This book has been written with so much passion. Kincaid writes an in-depth analysis as a product of very detailed close reading. 

Leticia Lara at Fantastica Ficcion

Kincaid's journey through all works is exhaustive, chronologically placing each publication and relating it to the moment of writing. In this respect the book is brilliant.

Ian Sales at It Doesn't Have to be Right ...

[A]fter reading Paul’s book on Banks’s novels, it occurs to me that my problem with Banks is that he rewarded careful reading but his prose was so effortlessly readable that I likely never gave his fiction the depth of reading which generated the most reward. And I reached this conclusion because Paul, a friend of many years, writes about Banks’s novels so well, so readably, that I want to go back to Banks’s books immediately and reread them and discover in them all the depth and goodness identified by Paul which I plainly missed.

Russell Letson in Locus, issue 681, October 2017

While Kincaid takes Banks's work seriously, neither the writing nor the viewpoint of his study is academic-hermetic -- he had met and liked his subject and places him in the social world of SF and its fandom... With Paul Kincaid, [Banks is] in pretty good hands.

Nick Hubble at Strange Horizons, 18 December 2017

while some of Kincaid’s characterisation of the Culture is open to question, he is successful in making us rethink the standard division of Banks’s work into mainstream and SF books. He demonstrates through concise analysis how the Scottish fantastic novels are as much a form of science fiction as the Culture novels. He also provides excellent detailed readings of those novels which have perhaps been unfairly overshadowed by the Culture series, such as Feersum Endjinn and Transition. ... Kincaid’s Iain M. Banks is ... likely to become a benchmark for Banks studies in the years ahead

Jerome Winter in Science Fiction Studies, #134, March 2018

this new volume in the MODERN MASTERS OF SCIENCE FICTION series seems like a bona fide twofer: Paul Kincaid, a remarkably incisive and informed critic of print sf, on Iain M. Banks, one of the most talented and beloved sf writers of the past thirty years. And in many ways this survey delivers on such a promise, save for a couple of caveats I hazard below. Certainly, as Kincaid himself mentions in his brief summary of the extant criticism on Banks, scholarship is still in its early stages in the academic reception of this prolific, recently deceased author. This book is therefore useful as a comprehensive primer written for the uninitiated, the curious, or for those invested scholars or die-hard aficionados who simply want a brush-up or broad overview of the author’s oeuvre. And, with any luck, this lucid and cogent survey will pave the way for further theoretically rigorous studies.

Abigail Nussbaum at Lawyers, Guns and Money, 26 March 2018

One of the most interesting aspects of Iain M. Banks is that unlike most SF critics approaching Banks—in which group I include myself—Kincaid doesn’t restrict himself to the books published under the “M.” label. His overview discusses both Banks’s science fiction and his mainstream fiction, and he argues persuasively that the two streams had more in common than is widely acknowledged. That Banks’s literary novels had a strong streak of the fantastic running through them (Kincaid identifies this as the influence of several other authors in the flourishing Scottish literature scene at the time that Banks was getting his start as a writer, primarily Alasdair Gray), and that certain themes, chiefly a fascination with doubling and uncertain identity, recur in all of his novels.

Bob Hugh Hodges in Foundation 133, 2019

The survey offers several ways through Banks’s prolific output. First, his place within a Scottish fantastical tradition arguably establishes a context for reading Banks’s frequent themes of doppelgangers, familial betrayal and genre play … [And] Kincaid periodically and evocatively returns to Banks’s career-long fixation on symbols of macroscopic scale: bridges, castles, starships and other edifices in the grand sf tradition of the Big Dumb Object that provide Banks with frequent novelistic subjects and formal structures.

Rob Latham in Extrapolation Vol 60, No.2, Summer 2019

Kincaid’s Iain M. Banks is an exemplary contribution to Illinois’s Modern Masters of Science Fiction series: it is comprehensive, masterfully researched, and clearly and compellingly written.