For some crazy reason I seem to have not spotted some of the videos contained in the protected section of the Iain Banks iPhone App. I have now corrected the original review so please go there to see the whole listing.
It seems that these videos are unique to the app at the moment – can’t find them on YouTube for instance or on a Google search for Iain Banks videos.
As a fan of Iain Banks (see my article on his Wasp Factory), and also a writer of Science Fiction and Fantasy, this is an amazing insight into the mind of one of the world’s best SF writers. I was really interested in how Iain wrote his books – did he plan meticulously, or was he a seat of the pants writer. The answer having read this seems to be that he does a bit of planning, but that this isn’t exhaustive. For instance the information on characters and locations is limited to a list really. But there is also what amounts to a 15 page synopsis of Transition as well, which is quite detailed. So perhaps a bit more of a planner than say Stephen King?
So what do you get on the App:
Free to everyone:
Timeline of Iain’s books
RSS feed of Iain news
3 page list of characters and places from Transition
15 page synopsis of Transition
Video interview about the context of Transtion
Video interview about the context and timeframe of Transition
2 part Video interview about “The Concern”
17 page essay on The Spheres – which I think has something to do with Surface Detail
Video interview about Surface Detail
As far as I can work out the videos are not available on YouTube.
One complaint about the written content is that it’s not very readable on the iPhone – seems difficult to zoom in – perhaps the publisher could have reflowed these as ePub files rather than what look like PDFs? But all in all if you’re a Banks fan and/or a SF writer the app is well worth getting.
To unlock the app you need to either scan a barcode in the paperback edition or if you have the hardback you are asked for a word from a certain page and line in that edition.
I do wonder though if anyone would want all this information if they weren’t a big Banks fan, so is putting a lock on really necessary?
I blogged previously about the news that Iain Banks‘ Transition was going to be released as a podcast through iTunes. I recently downloaded and started listening to this. It comes in 7 episodes so far, each of about 15-20 minutes long. Although according to the press release there will be 23 episodes in total.
What the press release doesn’t say is that actually this isn’t the full book, but an abridged version. This of course makes perfect sense, why would the publisher give the whole audio book away. However, I think I’m going to keep listening. The story is well narrated and very intriguing. Banks uses a number of different narrators to tell his story, which after listening to two and half episodes is still rather enigmatic, but very intriguing. What I like about it so far is the fact that he doesn’t feel the need to insult the reader’s (listener’s) intelligence by explaining everything. We find out more about the characters and the setting as the story progresses. In particular there are two characters who are operating in a world that is not our own, but we have to piece together ourselves what is going on rather than being given an information dump to explain it to us.
The book also seems to be dealing with some interesting themes. It starts by comparing two incidents, 9/11 and the fall of the Berlin wall. It’s very much, I think, going to be a book about the world we live in now, despite the speculative elements. This is the kind of fiction that is both challenging and important. I can’t understand why Iain doesn’t get further in prizes like the Booker. Surely his kind of fiction which examines our society is more relevant than the books that seem to fill this short-list, which apparently with only one exception are all basically historical novels.