Just a month before his passing, Iain M. Banks did a final interview with the Guardian, and it's a must-read in general. In particular, he answers one of the great longstanding questions about his Culture novels: why didn't he ever write a novel about the fall of the Culture, his massive spacefaring civilization?
Banks told the the Guardian:
It's a self-conscious decision; just like the Culture itself is determined to keep on going, refusing to sublimate or disappear off stage, so I think it would be too easy for me to lob in a series-ender. To that extent, 'destroying the whole universe' – an always tempting scenario when you realise in SF you can do anything – just seems too easy.
He also told the Guardian writing the Culture novels was "a hoot" because "it's my train set," even though writing in such a sprawling universe, with so much accumulated backstory, required more concentration as he went along because he didn't want to contradict what he'd written before.
He also explains how Ken MacLeod saved the novel Use of Weapons, and how his novel A Song of Stone started out as a poem, and how he's grown disenchanted with the new Doctor Who, and would never have wanted to write for the show in any case. Also, he says it's just a coincidence that his final novel, Quarry, is about a man dying of cancer, and he shares his thoughts about mortality — in particular, that it's a mistake to think there's anything particularly special about your individual consciousness that has to be preserved at all costs.
The whole thing is a must-read — check it out at the link. [Guardian]