Unseen Iain Banks drawings to appear in new Culture universe book

Iain Banks passed away in 2013 just two months after announcing he had cancer.
Iain Banks passed away in 2013 just two months after announcing he had cancer.
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Previously unseen drawings by the celebrated Scottish author Iain Banks are to appear in a brand new book celebrating his science fiction writing - to be published six years after his death.


Publisher Orbit will release a new “vision” of the Culture universe that Banks spent 25 years writing about.

Due to be released next year, it will feature a host of previously unknown drawings, sketches and maps that were discovered in the writer’s files by Adele Hartley, his widow.

Read more: Scottish author Iain Banks dies aged 59

Many are said to be annotated by the author and pre-date the writing of the 10 “space opera” novels, which were published over 25 years. The publishers say the book will reveal “the astonishing imagination behind the Culture and Iain’s passion for every detail of the universe he created.”

The as-yet-untitled book on the Culture will include a commentary by the author’s close friend and fellow science fiction writer Ken MacLeod, has been working on the book with Ms Hartley, who is looking after his literary estate.

One of Scotland’s most prolific authors of modern times, Banks achieved huge success in two different genres, mainstream literary fiction and science fiction, writing the latter under the name Iain M Banks.

The first book in the Culture series, Consider Phlebas, was published in 1987, while the final instalment appeared in 2012, the year before Banks passed away just two months after telling his fans he had terminal cancer.

Read more: Iain Banks: ‘I used anger at death in final book’

Extracts from some of the Culture novels will be reprinted in the new book, which is intended to provide a “unique insight” into the history, language, technology, philosophy and values of the fictional utopian society.

Tim Holman, publisher of Orbit, said: “The Culture novels of Iain M. Banks have been enjoyed by millions of readers around the world, and one of Iain’s great achievements is his vision of the Culture itself.

“These many drawings, maps and sketches reveal both the astonishing imagination behind the Culture and Iain’s passion for every detail of the universe he created. It’s incredible to see how the Culture was taking shape even before he wrote the novels.”

MacLeod said: “Adele found a considerable number of drawings, many with annotation, that Iain had made which illustrated the Culture. She showed them to me and said she felt it would be a shame if they weren’t published.

“He had worked out the Culture universe in considerable details and it’s really interesting to see the consistency in how everything unfolds from the cosmology of the universe to the technology that is feasibile in it. There’s a remarkable coherence to the whole thing.

“The final form of the book has still to be worked out, but extracts of the Culture novels will be integrated with the drawings, some of Iain’s own writing on them and my own commentary."

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, a thinly-disguised version of The Scotsman, on the trail of a serial killer and was made into a feature film in 2000. 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 10 of a 2013 poll to find the nation’s favourite Scottish novel of the last 50 years.