Amazon to turn Iain Banks' sci-fi work into new TV series

Iain Banks was a hugely successful sci-fi author as well as a best-selling mainstream fiction writer.
Iain Banks was a hugely successful sci-fi author as well as a best-selling mainstream fiction writer.
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The science fiction world created by the late Scottish author Iain Banks is set to be turned into a major TV series.

Amazon Studios has snapped up the first instalment of the much-loved writer's Culture series, Consisder Phlebas.

Dennis Kelly, writer of the Channel 4 conspiracy thriller Utopia and Matilda the Musical, will be adapting Banks’s first “space opera”, which was published in 1987.

Written under the name Iain M Banks, the series spanned ten novels across 25 years. The final instalment appeared in 2012, the day before the author passed away, just two months after telling his fans he had terminal cancer.

Read more: Scottish author Iain Banks dies aged 59

The Amazon Studios deal has been announced just days after it emerged that previously unseen drawings by the author would be published in a brand new book focused on Banks’s vision of the Culture universe.

Amazon, which announced the deal following talks with Banks’s literary estate, described Consider Phlebas as “a kinetic, action-packed adventure on a huge canvas”.

It said the story would focus on “the extraordinary world and mythology Banks created in the Culture, in which a highly advanced and progressive society ends up at war with the Idirans, a deeply religious, warlike race intent on dominating the entire galaxy”.

Read more: Unseen Iain Banks drawings to appear in new Culture universe book

Born in Fife, Banks studied at Stirling University and published his first novel, The Wasp Factory, in 1984. In 1996, one of his most popular novels, The Crow Road, was adapted by BBC Scotland.

His 1993 novel Complicity featured a writer for the Caledonian newspaper, a thinly-disguised version of The Scotsman, on the trail of a serial ­killer and was made into a feature film in 2000.

Sharon Tal Yguado, head of scripted series at Amazon Studios, said: “The story of the Culture is so rich and captivating that for years Hollywood has been trying to bring this utopian society to life on the screen.

“We are honoured that we have been chosen, along with Dennis Kelly and Plan B Entertainment, to make Consider Phlebas into a television series we think will be loved by fans for years to come.”

Kelly said: “Iain Banks has long been a hero of mine, and his innate warmth, humour and humanism shines through these novels.

“Far from being the dystopian nightmares that we are used to, Banks creates a kind of flawed paradise, a society truly worth fighting for—rather than a warning from the future, his books are a beckoning.”

Earlier this month, publisher Orbit announced that it would be publishing a host of previously unknown drawings, sketches and maps that were discovered in the ­writer’s files by Adele Hartley, his widow.

Many are said to be annotated by the author and pre-date the writing of the Culture books.

His final novel, The Quarry, was published a few weeks after his death. Banks was the only author to have two books – The Bridge and Excession – in the top ten of a 2013 poll to find the nation’s favourite Scottish novel of the last 50 years.