Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Huddersfield Literature Festival - 15th March 2014 - Life and works of Iain M Banks

Hi guys

Went to the above on saturday after the Meet the Agent/Editor event and it was very good although at 5 hours long it started to drag in parts.

Iain M Banks - or Iain Banks to the contempary reader was both a crime and science fiction author who was very popular and sadly passed away last year after a short, harsh battle with cancer.
I decided to go to the above event as I had heard of his work and any reviews of his novels always got good marks especially in SFX magazine - plus it would be insight to a popular and respected author.

I have since downloaded a sample of one of Iain sci-fi novels called Matter onto my smart phone and loved it - good description and characters - will be purchasing the full novel as want to know what happens now.

Ken Macleod also a science fiction author attended and spoke at the event as well as respected and influential sci-fi/fantasy editor/agent John Jarrold.

The 5 hour event was broken up into 5 sections.  They were:

The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks breakthorough -
David Haddock fan and editor of Iain Banks fanzine introduced this which showcased Iain first successfully published novel - The Wasp Factory which Iain got published in 1983/4.  He wrote it in 1981 and it took him 10 weeks to write - also received 6 publisher rejections. It was published on Iain's 30th birthday.
David told how Iain's writing career started in the 1960's when Iain was at school.
His first novel was 'The top of Poeisdon" written in 1968 when Iain was aged 14 which was more a novella these days at 35,000 words.

Conversation and Curries -
Michelle Hodgson who organised the Hudds Literature festival also shared her experiences of being Iain's PA for around 20 years - she was quite emotional as she described what it was like working and living with Iain on his tours and in pubs and curry houses across Britain which they went to after signings.
She also showed news clips of Iain on talks and being interviewed - she was also on screen and hasn't aged at all!!

Espedair Street -
Hosted by composer Gary Lloyd he discussed how he worked with Iain on some musical collabarations including turning one of Iain's novels into an album.
Gary played parts of it to us although this section could have been just 30 to 45 minutes instead of an hour.

Songs of Stone - Ken Macleod talked through some of Iain's poetry - some of which he wrote at school - himself and Iain were working on a collection of poetry they were planning to bring out when Iain sadly passed away but this should still be published in near future.  Was very interesting.

The Culture and other stories -
Ken Macleod was joined by agent John Jarrold and steam punk novelist David Barnett to discuss Iains contribution to science fiction and his culture books.
Agent John gave a funny tale of how he first met Iain with Iain laid on the ground with a pint resting on his chest in 1986 at a sci-fi convention.  In December 1987 John became Iain's agent and John went onto Orbit publishing.
Ken met Iain at school and they were both into sci-fi and read the same books - Ken asked Iain to write for his sci-fi magazine.
All three discussed how attitudes to sci-fi/fantasy over the last 10 years and is now more mainstream.

Overall the event was very good and Michelle, Ken and John were quite emotional of their fallen friend and comrade who they all loved.  Iain came across as a very likeable and funny character and would have been good to meet him or have gone to his signings.
The only problem was the length but then alot of work had gone into the event - my only regret is that I didn't talk to John and Ken.  Oh well hopefully next time?


1 comment:

  1. Good in-depth review Neil, sounds like it was a good event