A good summary of Iain Bank’s career at this site about the Edinburgh Festival.
Unfortunately not many snippets about Surface Detail though. All we get is:
His next book is Surface Detail, a Culture novel(released 7 October 2010). The utopian Culture, he tells us was created to reclaim the moral high ground of space opera where so much of the genre was right wing. It was also a reaction against the raft of Orwellian works. The new book “begins with a murder…and will not end until the culture has gone to war with death itself”. Banks describes it as “internal turf wars”.
But there are some good insights about Iain Banks the writer in the commentary on his interview at the Festival:
Questions from the audience return us to the process of creating his novels. Viewing authors basically as entertainers he is aware of the need to make his novels work for the booklover and also to provide subsequent gratifying readings. He describes his method of planning, including colour coded characters to ensure pacing. He admits to some concern that age would lessen his number of unique ideas, which he sees as vital to his science fiction works in particular – mainstream works just need to be well done but not necessarily original. Happily any diminution has been balanced by being better equipped to utilise concepts. While we are not likely to spot many influences in his work they include the Marx Brothers, Monty Python, the Goons, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Jane Austin, Graham Greene, Alan Warner and specifically the novels Catch 22, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Alasdair Gray’s Lanark.
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