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Rankin tribute to author Banks

Crime author Ian Rankin has described his late friend Iain Banks as a writing machine whose best creative years could still have been ahead of him.

Banks died on Sunday at the age of 59, two months after revealing he had terminal gall bladder cancer. The Fife-born author was best known for his novels The Crow Road and cult hit The Wasp Factory.

Fellow author Rankin paid tribute to his friend's "great imagination" and said he had not come to the end of his time as a writer.

He told BBC Radio Scotland: "He does leave behind a substantial body of work. He was 59. Who knows, his best years may still have been ahead of him. Writers tend to go on to their 70s and 80s and beyond, they don't stop writing.

"In some ways he was a machine, he was doing a book a year - a sci-fi novel, then a straight novel, then a sci fi novel. The writing still excited him, the ideas still excited him, there was no shortage of ideas, he wasn't coming to the end of his time as a writer."

Edinburgh-based Rankin praised Banks' versatility as an author.

"I think he absolutely loved that he could straddle both worlds because not many writers can do that successfully," Rankin told the Good Morning Scotland programme. "He could go off to science fiction conventions, he could go to comic shops and sign for people who were very excited to meet him and talk about this world that he created, this culture he created. But he could also go to traditional bookshops and talk to audiences, go to literary festivals, and he loved that he could do both of those."

Following his diagnosis, Banks withdrew from all planned public engagements and married his long-term partner Adele. He announced in a statement on April 3 that his latest novel, The Quarry, would be his last.

Banks published his first novel The Wasp Factory in 1984 and his debut sci-fi title, Consider Phlebas, came three years later. His novel The Crow Road, which opens with the memorable line ''It was the day my grandmother exploded'', was adapted for a popular television series in 1996.

In 2008 Banks was named one of the 50 greatest British writers since 1945 in a list compiled by The Times.

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