Quotes by Iain Banks

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I'm too drunk to recall much of what I've said. Which, come to think of it, is probably just as well, judging by the way people who are normally quite sensible dissolve into gibbering, rude, opinionated and bombastic idiots once the alcohol molecules in their bloom-stream outnumber the neutrons, or whatever. Luckily, one only notices this if one stays sober oneself, so the solution is as pleasant (at the time, at least) as it is obvious. more...

Stories set in the Culture in which Things Went Wrong tended to start with humans losing or forgetting or deliberately leaving behind their terminal. It was a conventional opening, the equivalent of straying off the path in the wild woods in one age, or a car breaking down at night on a lonely road in another. more...

It was the day my grandmother exploded. more...

I held my crotch, closed my eyes and repeated my secret catechism. more...

People were always sorry. Sorry they had done what they had done, sorry they were doing what they were doing, sorry they were going to do what they were going to do; but they still did whatever it is. The sorrow never stopped them; it just made them feel better. And so the sorrow never stopped. more...

There has seldom if ever a shortage of eager young males prepared to kill and die to preserve the security, comfort and prejudices of their elders, and what you call heroism is just an expression of this simple fact; there is never a scarcity of idiots. more...

Torture is such a slippery slope; as soon as you allow a society or any legal system to do that, almost instantly you get a situation where people are being tortured for very trivial reasons. more...

My point has always been that, ever since the Industrial Revolution, science fiction has been the most important genre there is. more...

I think a lot of people are frightened of technology and frightened of change, and the way to deal with something you're frightened of is to make fun of it. That's why science fiction fans are dismissed as geeks and nerds. more...

By the usual reckoning, the worst books make the best films. more...

I deliberately keep myself apart from a lot of stuff; I don't Tweet, I don't do Facebook, I don't blog, and that's largely because I spend my working life staring at a screen and hitting a keyboard, I am trying to cut down on that, not increase it. more...

Smell is a very animal thing, almost reptilian, where the more cerebral things like reading less so. more...

You have to have something worth saying and then the ability to say it- writing's a double skill, really. more...

I remember being shocked when I discovered some of my school pals didn't have books in their homes. I thought it was like not having oxygen, or hot water. more...

Most mainstream male fiction is littered with heroines, and female characters are basically so great, you want to fall in love with them. more...

I just come up with the stories and write them as well as I can. There's not really a great deal of strokey-beard thinking going on. more...

I still find it hard to understand that anyone could argue that you can't have machines that exhibit consciousness. more...

I still have some of my old University essays, and I do still have my drawing book from primary year seven. more...

I'm an only child so am happy with my own company and I don't really get lonely. more...

Science fiction is trying to find alternative ways of looking at realities. more...

I love writing and can't imagine not being able to do it. I want an easy life and if it had been difficult I wouldn't be doing it. I do admire writers who do it even though it costs them. more...

I've always loved Scotland, and I'm not a huge fan of big cities, to be honest. I like them to dip into for a bit, but I'm not sure I would want to live in one again. more...

As long as a film stays unmade, the book is entirely yours, it belongs to the writer. As soon as you make it into a film, suddenly more people see it than have ever read the book. more...

Science fiction has its own history, its own legacy of what's been done, what's been superseded, what's so much part of the furniture it's practically part of the fabric now, what's become no more than a joke... and so on. It's just plain foolish, as well as comically arrogant, to ignore all this, to fail to do the most basic research. more...

In theory, I work an eight-hour day and a five-day week which means I can socialise with my pals who mostly have normal jobs like teaching and computer programming. more...

A lot of what the 'Culture' is about is a reaction to all the science fiction I was reading in my very early teens. more...

As a writer, you get to play, you get alter time, you get to come up with the smart lines and the clever comebacks you wish you'd thought of. more...

I think we need politicians; we need people who want to serve. more...

'Dead Air' is full of rants; it's a rant-based book. Yes, it's self-indulgence. I plead guilty; mea culpa. more...

I think the future stopped looking American when you think back to Blade Runner and Neuromancer, when it started to look more Japanese. more...

I wouldn't like to be a character in one of my books! more...

Even galaxy-spanning anarchist utopias of stupefying full-spectrum civilisational power have turf wars within their unacknowledged militaries. more...

Oh, they never lie. They dissemble, evade, prevaricate, confound, confuse, distract, obscure, subtly misrepresent and willfully misunderstand with what often appears to be a positively gleeful relish and are generally perfectly capable of contriving to give one an utterly unambiguous impression of their future course of action while in fact intending to do exactly the opposite, but they never lie. Perish the thought. more...

After doing extensive research, I can definitely tell you that single malt whiskies are good to drink. more...

I'm not a great believer in awards-of course the fact that I've never won one has nothing to do with it at all! more...

In so much of politics you're not allowed to disagree with what's been agreed. more...

There is a quite a lot of effort involved but I find action sequences some of the quickest to write and the most fun. more...

Even in my side of the world, I've been in publishing for what, 25 or 26 years, and it's gone from being a gentlemen's club to being a few big players, and it's very corporatised. more...

I enjoy it too much - even if I knew I'd never get a book published, I would still write. I enjoy the experience of getting thoughts and ideas and plots and characters organised into this narrative framework. more...

I don't really do themes. I might accidentally, but themes are an emergent phenomena of the writing of the book, of just trying to get a story out there. more...

Technology determines the possibilities of society. It doesn't matter whether you start out from a fascist state or a communist state or a free-market state. more...

You get so caught up in what you're writing - action sequences tend to do that more than anything else because you're living it, and feeling for your characters. more...

Don't you have a religion?" Dorolow asked Horza. "Yes," he replied, not taking his eyes away from the screen on the wall above the end of the main mess-room table. "My survival." "So... your religion dies with you. How sad," Dorolow said, looking back from Horza to the screen. The Changer let the remark pass. more...

Escape is a consumer goods like another more...

People can be teachers and idiots; they can be philosophers and idiots; they can be politicians and idiots... in fact I think they have to be... a genius can be an idiot. The world is largely run for and by idiots; it is no great handicap in life and in certain areas is actually a distinct advantage and even a prerequisite for advancement. more...

All our lives are symbols. Everything we do is part of a pattern we have at least some say in. The strong make their own patterns and influence other people's, the weak have their courses mapped out for them. The weak and the unlucky, and the stupid. more...

The point is, there is no feasible excuse for what are, for what we have made of ourselves. We have chosen to put profits before people, money before morality, dividends before decency, fanaticism before fairness, and our own trivial comforts before the unspeakable agonies of others more...

Something in your voice tells me we approach the question of remuneration. more...

That was how divorced from the human scale modern warfare had become. You could smash and destroy from unthinkable distances, obliterate planets from beyond their own system and provoke stars into novae from light-years off...and still have no good idea why you were really fighting. more...

You like music, Mr. Gurgeh?" Hamin asked, leaning over to the man. Gurgeh nodded. "Well, a little does no harm. more...

One of the advantages of having laws is the pleasure one may take in breaking them. We here are not children, Mr. Gurgeh." Hamin waved the pipestem round the tables of people. "Rules and laws exist only because we take pleasure in doing what they forbid, but as long as most of the people obey such proscriptions most of the time, they have done their job; blind obedience would imply we are ha!" Hamin chuckled and pointed at the drone with the pipe "no more than robots! more...

Well," he sighed to no one in particular, and looked up into yet another alien sky. "Here we are again. more...

There are no gods, we are told, so I must make my own salvation. more...

What is all your studying worth, all your learning, all your knowledge, if it doesn't lead to wisdom? And what's wisdom but knowing what is right, and what is the right thing to do? more...

You're a wicked man." "Thank you. It's taken years of diligent practice. more...

The combination of modern ordnance and outdated tactics had, as usual, created enormous casualties on both sides. more...

Here, in the bare dark face of night A calm unhurried eye draws sight We see in what we think we fear The cloudings of our thought made clear more...

I am not being obtuse. You are being paranoid. more...

If you have any helpful suggestions I'd be pleased to hear them. If all you can do is make snide insinuations then it would probably benefit all concerned if you bestowed the fruits of your prodigious wit on someone with the spare time to give them the consideration they doubtless deserve. more...

I am, as I have always been, of the opinion that while the niceties of normal moral constraints should be our guides, they must not be our masters. more...

Maybe it wasn't anything remotely to do with religion, mysticism or metaphilosophy after all; maybe it was more banal; maybe it was just...accounting. more...

Any such inklings were like a few scattered grains of truth dissolved in an ocean of nonsense, and were anyway generally inextricably bound up with patently paranoid ravings which served only to devalue the small amounts of sense and pertinence with which they were associated. more...

Empires are synonymous with centralized if occasionally schismatized hierarchical power structures in which influence is restricted to an economically privileged class retaining its advantages through usually a judicious use of oppression and skilled manipulation of both the society's information dissemination systems and its lesser as a rule nominally independent power systems. In short, it's all about dominance. more...

I'm from out of town," he said breezily. This was true. He'd never been within a hundred light-years of the place. more...

I think I know the real reason." "Which is?" "Alcohol in the dust clouds. Goddamn stuff is everywhere. Any lousy species ever invents the telescope and the spectroscope and starts looking in between the stars, what do they find?" He knocked the glass on the table. "Loads of stuff, but much of it alcohol." He drank from the glass. "Humanoids are the galaxy's way of trying to get rid of all that alcohol. more...

Look at these humans! How could such glacial slowness even be called life? An age could pass, virtual empires rise and fall in the time they took to open their mouths to utter some new inanity! more...

It gripped her hand gently. 'Regret is for humans,' it said. She laughed. 'Really?' The machine shrugged and let go of her hand. 'Oh, no. It's just something we tell ourselves. more...

What's one more meaningless act of violence on that zoo of a planet? It would be appropriate. When in Rome; burn it. more...

It's a library, only the stupid or the evil are afraid of those more...

He knew all the answers. Everybody did. Everybody knew everything and everybody knew all the answers. It was just that the enemy seemed to know better ones. more...

There's an old Sysan saying that the soup of life is salty enough without adding tears to it. more...

Writing is like everything else: the more you do it the better you get. Don't try to perfect as you go along, just get to the end of the damn thing. Accept imperfections. Get it finished and then you can go back. If you try to polish every sentence there's a chance you'll never get past the first chapter. more...

...[Changers] were a threat to identity, a challenge to the individualism even of those they were never likely to impersonate. It had nothing to do with souls or physical or spiritual possession; it was, as the Idirans well understood, the behavouristic copying of another which revolted. Individuality, the thing which most humans held more precious than anything else about themselves, was somehow cheapened by the ease with which a Changer could ignore it as a limitation and use it as a disguise. more...

Dead Air' is full of rants; it's a rant-based book. Yes, it's self-indulgence. I plead guilty; mea culpa. more...

Half the fun of writing a novel is finding out from other people later on what you actually meant. more...

You need to read more science fiction. Nobody who reads science fiction comes out with this crap about the end of history more...

Intellectual achievement. The exercise of skill. Human feeling. more...

I'm saying with very few exceptions nothing lasts forever, and among those exceptions, no work or thought of man is numbered. more...

Soon equates to good, later to worse, Uagen Zlepe, scholar. Therefore, immediacy. more...

It looks perverted and wasteful to us, but then one thing that empires are not about is the efficient use of resources and the spread of happiness; both are typically accomplished despite the economic short-circuiting-corruption and favoritism, mostly-endemic to the system. more...

Technology determines the possibilities of society. It doesn't matter whether you start out from a fascist state or a communist state or a free-market state more...

Empathize with stupidity and you're halfway to thinking like an idiot more...

Our lives are about development, mutation and the possibility of change; that is almost a definition of what life is: change... If you disable change, if you effectively stop time, if you prevent the possibility of the alteration of an individual's circumstances - and that must include at least the possibility that they alter for the worse - then you don't have life after death; you just have death. more...

They speak very well of you". - "They speak very well of everybody." - "That so bad?" - "Yes. It means you can't trust them. more...

-"Then what," Lededje asked, trying to keep her voice cold and not get caught up in the avatar's obvious enthusiasm, "is making you smile about a disaster?" -"Well, first, I didn't cause it! Nothing to do with me, hands clean. Always a bonus. more...

The truth is not always useful, not always good. It's like putting your faith in water. Yes, we need the rain, but too much can sweep you away in a flood and drown you. Like all great natural, elemental forces, the truth needs to be channeled, managed, controlled and intelligently, morally allocated. more...

Political correctness is what right-wing bigots call what everybody else calls being polite more...

Any theory which causes solipsism to seem just as likely an explanation for the phenomena it seeks to describe ought to be held in the utmost suspicion. more...

One should never mistake pattern for meaning. more...

One should never regret one's excesses, only one's failures of nerve. more...

But it was pointless, it was stupid; he thought about thoughtless things. If I were a seabird . . . but how could you be a seabird? If you were a seabird your brain would be tiny and stupid and you would love half-rotted fish guts and tweaking the eyes out of little grazing animals; you would know no poetry and you could never appreciate flying as fully as the human on the ground yearning to be you. If you wanted to be a seabird you deserved to be one. more...

The bomb lives only as it is falling. more...

If this goes badly and I make a crater, I want it named after me! more...

The History Of The Universe In Three Words CHAPTER ONE Bang! CHAPTER TWO sssss CHAPTER THREE crunch. THE END more...

...and I confess that, like a child, I cry. Ah, self-pity; I think we are at our most honest and sincere when we feel sorry for ourselves. more...

I just took [my cancer diagnosis] as bad luck, basically. It did strike me almost immediately, my atheist sort of thing kicked in and I thought "ha, if I was a God-botherer, I'd be thinking, why me God? What have I done to deserve this?" and I thought at least I'm free of that, at least I can simply treat it as bad luck and get on with it. more...

The trouble with writing fiction is that it has to make sense, whereas real life doesn't. more...

Mr Blawke always reminded me of a heron; I'm not sure why. Something to do with a sense of rapacious stillness, perhaps, and also the aura of one who knows time is on his side. more...

A guilty system recognizes no innocents. more...

Perdition awaits at the end of a road constructed entirely from good intentions, the devil emerges from the details and hell abides in the small print. more...

One of the advantages of having laws is the pleasure one may take in breaking them. more...

Truth, I have learned, differs for everybody. Just as no two people ever see a rainbow in exactly the same place - and yet both most certainly see it, while the person seemingly standing right underneath it does not see it at all - so truth is a question of where one stands, and the direction one is looking in at the time. more...

All you ever were was a little bit of the universe, thinking to itself. Very specific; this bit, here, right now. All the rest was fantasy. more...

Most people are not prepared to have their minds changed, and I think they know in their hearts that other people are just the same, and one of the reasons people become angry when they argue is that they realize just that, as they trot out their excuses. more...

Reason shapes the future, but superstition infects the present. more...

What is any achievement, however great it was, once time itself is dead? more...

It was a truism that all civilizations were basically neurotic until they made contact with everybody else and found their place within the ever-changing meta-civilisation of other beings, because, until then, during the stage when they honestly believed they might be entirely alone in existence, all solo societies were possessed of both an inflated sense of their own importance and a kind of existential terror at the sheer scale and apparent emptiness of the universe. more...

The truth is not always useful, not always good. It's like putting your faith in water. Yes, we need the rain, but too much can sweep you away in a flood and drown you. Like all great natural, elemental forces, the truth needs to be channeled, managed, controlled and intelligently, morally allocated. more...

Hersesy is denying the word of God, and the word of God is much more reliably expressed in the natural world as it's revealed through reason and science than in what I have heard described wonderfully as "the giant book of Jewish fairy stories more...

One of your American professors said that to study religion was merely to know the mind of man, but if one truly wanted to know the mind of God, you must study physics. more...

Experience as well as common sense indicated that the most reliable method of avoiding self-extinction was not to equip oneself with the means to accomplish it in the first place. more...

My gratitude extends beyond the limits of my capacity to express it, more...

I think the easiest people to fool are ourselves. Fooling ourselves may even be a necessary precondition for fooling others. more...

Anyway, you can't leave her like that. You can't do that to the woman. She doesn't deserve it; nobody does. You don't belong to her and she doesn't belong to you, but you're both part of each other; if she got up and left now and walked away and you never saw each other again for the rest of your lives, and you lived an ordinary waking life for another fifty years, even so on your deathbed you would still know she was part of you. more...

Empathize with stupidity and you're halfway to thinking like an idiot. more...

Pity they didn't devote a little more ingenuity to staying alive rather than conducting mass slaughter as efficiently as possible. more...

The underlying point held; experience as well as common sense indicated that the most reliable method of avoiding self-extinction was not to equip oneself with the means to accomplish it in the first place. more...

Don't you have a religion? Dorolow asked Horza. Yes, he replied, not taking his eyes away from the screen on the wall above the end of the main mess-room table. My survival. more...

So it's false. What isn't? Intellectual achievement. The exercise of skill. Human feeling. more...

Is all this serious? Gurgeh said, turning, amused, from the screen to the drone. Deadly serious, Flere-Imsaho told him. Gurgeh laughed and shook his head. He thought the common people must be remarkably stupid if they believed all this nonsense. more...

You like music, Mr. Gurgeh? Hamin asked, leaning over to the man. Gurgeh nodded. Well, a little does no harm. more...

The news team, and Hamin, seemed well pleased. You should have been an actor, Jernau Gurgeh, Hamin told him. Gurgeh assumed this was intended as a compliment. more...

I'm very sorry, the drone said, without a trace of contrition. more...

He looked up from it at the stars again, and the view was warped and distorted by something in his eyes, which at first he thought was rain. more...

...in every age and every state, there has seldom if ever been a shortage of eager young males prepared to kill and die to preserve the security, comfort and prejudices of their elders, and what you call heroism is just an expression of this fact; there is never a scarcity of idiots. more...

The combination of modern ordnance and outdated tactics had, as ever, created enormous casualties on both sides. more...

A human exposed without protection to the conditions required to support Affronter life would be dying in at least three excitingly different and painful ways anyway without having to worry about being crushed by a cage of leg-thick tentacles. more...

It was used mainly as a regimental mess and dining hall and so was hung with flags, banners, the hides of enemies, bits and pieces of old weapons and military paraphenalia. more...

Serious up-cannoning on our part, for all its for all its intrinsic vulgarity and first-principle undesirability, may be the only way to prevent scalar inter-civilization conflicts... more...

The double-sun system was relatively poor in comets; there were only a hundred billion of them. more...

...there came a point when if a conspiracy was that powerful and subtle it became pointless to worry about it. more...

What, now? Soon equates to good, later to worse, Uagen Zlepe, scholar. Therefore, immediacy. more...

Hersesy is denying the word of God, and the word of God is much more reliably expressed in the natural world as it's revealed through reason and science than in what I have heard described wonderfully as "the giant book of Jewish fairy stories more...

I just think people overvalue argument because they like to hear themselves talk. more...

My greatest enemies are Women and the Sea. These things I hate. Women because they are weak and stupid and live in the shadow of men and are nothing compared to them, and the Sea because it has always frustrated me, destroying what I have built, washing away what I have left, wiping clean the marks I have made. more...

An Outside Context Problem was the sort of thing most civilisations encountered just once, and which they tended to encounter rather in the same way a sentence encountered a full stop. more...

I'm a devoted husband. That must strike you as totally deviant. more...


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