Rest in Peace, Iain M. Banks. Creator of The Culture and changer of the world.
I started reading Iain M Banks just over a year ago. So recently that I’m not even sure I can call myself a fan. But fan I quickly became of the man who reinvented Space Opera. I was hooked a hundred pages into Look to Windward. A few books later, Use of Weapons (which shouldn’t be your first Culture novel) shattered me into a million peices and allowed me entry into a hallowed and secretive club of readers who had been equally shattered. We had each others help to put ourselves back together even though some pieces would be lost forever.
Mr. Banks, you have changed me. You have shown me a path towards what is possible, and for this Sir, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. A light has gone out in the Culture, and this time more than just a few Drones have taken notice. Imagine all those people on all those Orbitals, suddenly sad, and not knowing why. Of all the billions of beings in The Culture, why should one person matter? Because when you’re the one reading the story, or living the story, it fucking matters. that’s why. Your Culture books are more than escapism, more than transportive. They are simply more.
It’s only June, and I already feel like I’ve lost too many people this year. I didn’t have the chance to thank them, to tell them how I felt, to tell them what their works and actions meant to me. A grief counselor gave me a letter template, a self guided exercise to help us articulate why that person was so important to us. It’s a one-way conversation that helps you through the grieving process.
Lesson learned. Nothing is forever. Sometimes promises are broken with no hard feelings. I need to tell people how I feel before it’s too late. I need to write those letters now, before it’s too late.
I’ll let you in on a little Use-of-Weapons-eque secret: this post isn’t really about Iain Banks.
this post is about how to cheat time.
Time steals everything from us, but more so because we willingly give it the power to. This is my request, to anyone reading this post: Write those letters now. Do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars, do not wait. Did someone have a positive influence on your life? Did someone unknowingly help you through hard times? Let them know. I suggest writing a letter because I am shit at verbal communications, and a letter allows the person on the receiving end some time to process what you’ve just said. Written communication means less awkwardness later.
This is not permission to start stalking someone. Do not mail people dead chipmunks as a token of your love, and I better not see any marriage proposals on twitter. Just send them a letter or an e-mail. These are the people who deserve far more than “thanks for being there for me” or “omg I love your books, when is your next one coming out???”. Tell them WHY their existence in your life was important to you. Cheat time.