Pointed out to me yesterday: last Sunday’s Open Book features an entertaining interview with Iain Banks about his new novel, Transition. As you’d expect, the sf/non-sf divide comes up, but this time it comes up because Transition is being marketed as a non-M novel, yet features parallel worlds and similar excitements. (And, in fact, in the US, it is an M-Banks novel.) Full marks to Muriel Gray for this exchange:
GREY: You’re one of Britain’s most popular and best-loved and best-selling writers, and yet something that really really annoys me personally is that you’ve never been nominated for one of the big literary prizes yet. Why do you think that is?
BANKS: I think possibly it’s because I’ve always got a foot in both camps as it were. Put it this way, I think if I’d kept my nose clean, if I hadn’t written science fiction, if I’d got away with The Wasp Factory as piece of a youthful indiscretion and if I’d written respectable novels since then, then maybe you know I’d have had a chance, a crack at the Booker prize by now!
GREY: You see, I have to interrupt you there. “Respectable novels”, referring to science fiction as not respectable, that’s Margaret Atwood territory –
BANKS: — well, quite, yeah
GREY: — the woman who refuses to admit she writes science fiction, she calls it “speculative fiction” so she continues to win prizes. This enrages me! Science fiction is perfectly respectable.
Alas, nobody has seen fit to send me a proof copy this time, so it may be a while before I get to it. Sounds promising, though.