I don’t think I saw it as challenging genre conventions as such; I just did what any fan of a genre (who has ambitions to create within that genre) does: look at what’s on offer, think “I can do that,” and then “But I want to do it differently, I want to do it this way.” Especially in SF, it seems right to try to improve on what’s already been produced, to take matters forward, to climb onto the shoulders of the giants who have gone before. What I wanted to read – and so to write – was SF with the energy, vitality and can-do attitude of so much great American SF, but which was as well written as so much of the usually more reflective, nuanced and less gung-ho British stuff. What I wanted to avoid was what I saw as the economic – and to some degree political – naivety of the US writers and the sheer god-awful sub-Orwellian miserablism of the Brits. Whether I’ve succeeded or not isn’t for me to say, but either way I’m sure I’ve managed to introduce my own intrinsic, embedded annoyances that other writers have been, are and will be reacting against for some time. This is entirely right and proper, by the way, and just the way the whole system works. So there.
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Iain M. Banks' latest Culture novel Hydrogen Sonata is out now.