Iain Banks and Lockerbie

science fiction books by Iain M. Banks

In the news this year: the U.S. obtained custody of Libyan terrorist Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud Kheir Al-Marimi, who participated in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. The bombing killed 270 people, including all on the plane and 11 residents of Lockerbie on the ground.

I’ve blogged before about the brilliance of Iain Banks’s science fiction novels (and his non-SF novels as well). I’m reminded that one of the short stories in the collection The State of the Art (1991), “Piece,” pp. 83-95, bears an eerie relationship to the Lockerbie disaster.

This is a great collection, one I had owned but hadn’t read until recently. One big part of it, the title novella (“State of the Art”) introduces readers to the Culture, one of the main players in Banks’s fascinating, multifarious, and detailed SF megaworld with its galactic-scaled wars and roiling, hard-ball politics, including an appearance by one of its most fascinating characters. Another of the short stories, “A Gift from the Culture,” is Culture-related as well.

Cover of Iain M. Banks short story collection
Find it at Amazon. Only available in print.

I think in a previous post, I had said one of the short stories “may be” Culture-related. No maybe about it. It is. So that’s a quick correction.

Another is my statement (before reading the book, just looking at a blurb for it) that Inversions, Culture (maybe) novel #6 (or is it #5? opinions seem to vary), is a series of interrelated stories. I should set the record straight here: it’s not. It’s a very interesting and technically sophisticated novel weaving together two experiences on the same planet by (maybe) visitors from another. . .culture, maybe?. . .of the galaxy, each one with different ideas about how the denizens of the more technologically primitive planet in a feudal stage of its historical development should be approached. Is this a Culture novel or is it not? Sly hints suggest. . .oh, just read it! It’s great. Unfortunately for those of you addicted to your e-readers, it–like The State of the Art–is only available in print, but it’s so worth it. (I love my e-reader. But I love the feel of a book in my hands, too. So I’m happy.)

Inversions science fiction novel by Iain M. Banks
Find it at Amazon. Only in print.

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