Award-winning SF author Iain M. Banks says he's dying of cancer

Iain M. Banks, the Hugo Award-winning author of The Algebraist and The Culture series, believes he has less than a year to live.

Banks announced his illness in a personal statement on his website. What started as treatment for jaundice turned into a diagnosis of gall bladder cancer, which has spread to his liver and "probably" his pancreas and lymph nodes.

"The bottom line, now, I’m afraid, is that as a late stage gall bladder cancer patient, I’m expected to live for ‘several months’ and it’s extremely unlikely I’ll live beyond a year. So it looks like my latest novel, The Quarry, will be my last," Banks wrote.

Banks also took time in the statement to thank his doctors and his publishers, and noted that he may undergo a course of chemotherapy with the hope of extending his time. The website also includes an online guestbook where friends and fans can write well wishes if they like. As for whatever time he has left, Banks has already made his plans.

"As a result, I’ve withdrawn from all planned public engagements and I’ve asked my partner Adele if she will do me the honour of becoming my widow (sorry – but we find ghoulish humour helps)," he wrote. "By the time this goes out we’ll be married and on a short honeymoon. We intend to spend however much quality time I have left seeing family. and relations and visiting places that have meant a lot to us. Meanwhile my heroic publishers are doing all they can to bring the publication date of my new novel forward by as much as four months, to give me a better chance of being around when it hits the shelves."

Banks is perhaps best known among sci-fi fans for his long-running series of novels about the Culture, a utopian, semi-anarchist society in which nothing is scarce and things are managed by highly sophisticated artificial intelligence. Books in that series include Consider PhlebasMatter and, most recently, The Hydrogen Sonata. He has been honored twice with the British Science Fiction Association Award and once with the British Fantasy Award, and earned both a Hugo and a Locus Award for his 2004 novel The Algebraist. He was also a prolific writer of literary fiction as "Iain Banks." In 2008 he was named one of the "50 greatest British writers since 1945" by the Times of London.

Well-wishes for Banks are already coming in. Fellow sci-fi author John Scalzi had this to say about Banks on his blog.

"And although I don’t know him, as a fan I want to thank him for being a wonderful writer and storyteller. I will continue to visit and wonder at his universes, and will be glad he left me ways to get to them. He is, and will remain, in my thoughts."

(Via BBC)