Iain M. Banks' New Novel: Literary In The U.K., Science Fiction In The U.S.

Iain M. Banks is a giant of modern-day science fiction, so it's dispiriting to read his slightly down-at-the-mouth interview in the Guardian. His book advances are getting smaller, but the good news is he'll be writing more books in response.

Banks tells the Guardian:

I'm getting less money for my next book contract. But I've heard of writers having their advances cut by 80%, and others getting nothing. You know, 'Sorry; we just don't want you any more.'

And in response, he will put out a book a year, instead of a book every 18 months. Which is good news — as long as Banks can keep the quality up. And the Guardian also says the literary side of his writing career has been in a bit of a slump in the past decade, but that seems to be over.

Iain Banks writes under two pen names: Iain Banks, and Iain M. Banks. The books without the "M" are classified as mainstream literary fiction, the books with the "M" are sold as science fiction. We just got done singing the praises of the M-less literary works and their potential appeal to science fiction fans, but the Guardian article says his most recent three literary novels — The Business, Dead Air, and The Steep Approach To Garbadale — were "lackluster" and left many people wondering if Banks' literary output had run out of steam. (Banks admits to the Guardian that Dead Air is full of rants and self-indulgence.)

Meanwhile, Banks' science fiction books, especially Look To Windward and Matter, have been as good as ever. His new book, Transition, is being marketed in Britain as another literary work, and "is being talked about as a return to form." But it'll be sold in the United States as a science fiction book, with the M, because, says Banks, "I sell better as a science-fiction writer over there." Since the novel takes place in a series of alternate worlds, either label might fit. [Guardian]