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Works by Paul Kincaid

Associated Works

The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature (2012) — Contributor — 111 copies
Digital Dreams (1990) — Contributor — 61 copies
The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction (2009) — Contributor — 54 copies
Tales from the Vatican Vaults: 28 Extraordinary Stories (2015) — Contributor — 15 copies
Polder: A Festschrift for John Clute and Judith Clute (2006) — Contributor — 13 copies
Interzone 023 (1988) — Contributor — 4 copies
Strange Pleasures 3 (2005) — Contributor — 4 copies
Strange Pleasures 2 (2003) — Contributor — 3 copies
BSFA Awards 2017 (2018) — Author — 2 copies
The BSFA Review 1 (2017) — Contributor — 2 copies
Vector 287 (2018) — Contributor — 1 copy
Vector 286 (2017) — Contributor — 1 copy
Vector 288 (2018) — Contributor — 1 copy
Vector 290 (2019) — Contributor — 1 copy
Focus 72 (2021) — Contributor — 1 copy
Vector 292 (2020) — Contributor — 1 copy
Vector 291 (2020) — Contributor — 1 copy
Bull Spec #7 — Contributor — 1 copy
Focus 73 (2021) — Contributor — 1 copy
Vector 295: Greek SFF (2022) — Contributor — 1 copy
Vector 207: Futures (2023) — Contributor — 1 copy
Vector 299: Modernisms (2024) — Contributor — 1 copy


Common Knowledge

Places of residence
Speller, Maureen Kincaid (spouse)
Awards and honors
Guest of Honour, Eastercon, UK (1996)



A critical yet readable study of the science fiction novels of Iain M. Banks, together with a study of the more fantastic of the works of Iain Banks. Paul Kincaid draws on close personal knowledge of the field of British science fiction and many of the personalities involved. He examines recurring themes in Banks' books - the politics, the reinvigoration of the space opera sub-genre (these two go hand-in-hand), the emphasis on more ordinary people as protagonists (though many of his protagonists have a high profile within the context of the books, they are not leaders ln the accepted sense of epic fiction), and the violence. Kincaid does not shy away from criticism in this latter area, specifically in terms of the prevalence of sexual violence.

The division of Banks' books into the two categories - mainstream and science fiction - is, as I said, blurred in this study. Other critical studies, and indeed, other critics, have failed to do this, and that approach gives a false view of Iain Banks as an author. His first three novels all had elements of the fantastic in them; but science fiction was his first love, and any analysis of Banks' output has to acknowledge that. (Kincaid does comment disparagingly that many who wrote obituaries of Banks, especially in the print media, commented on his career and acclaimed his mainstream novels but at best only touched on his science fiction without having ever read any of it - a palpable hit.) The mainstream novels that have more or less non-fantastic settings - The Crow Road, The Business, Dead Air and Stonemouth - are only really mentioned in passing when a theme, such as the role of games, occurs in them.

Of particular interest is the relationship between The Steep Approach to Garbadale and Transition - material excised from the first book appeared in the second - although it is a pity that Kincaid overlooked The Spheres, a chapbook published by the Birmingham SF Group on the occasion of Iain's appearance as Guest of Honour at their 2010 convention, Novacon; as that is a discarded opening chapter that, if kept, might have made Transition a very different book.

The influences on Banks are given their due, including Alasdair Gray, although I was pleasantly surprised to see that IMB's taste also ran to the songs of Pete Atkin, whose lyricist was his friend Clive James. (Yes, that Clive James.) As we are talking about friendships, Banks' friend Ken Macleod is duly identified as a huge influence on the evolution of his novels, though many of his friends are also cited where their influence comes into play. Iain Banks was notable as a successful author for maintaining friendships from his life before he was famous. (This is a theme that many of his "mainstream" novels keep returning to, and indeed there are strong relationships in the science fiction books as well.) It is little wonder that Banks took to SF fandom so very readily; and fandom returned the favour. In the end, Kincaid emphasises how much Iain Banks enjoyed life, and believed that his readers should have as much fun reading his books as he did writing them. In this, he succeeded. And although Kincaid does not spare criticism of the novels, this monograph ends on a note of joy which more academic studies would be far less likely to: "His books could be many things... but the one quality they all share, science fiction or mainstream or the many that don't quite belong in either category, is that they are fun to read."
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3 vote
RobertDay | 3 other reviews | Feb 16, 2023 |

I know and like both subject and author, but even if I didn't, I think this would stand out as a superb explanation of what Priest is trying to do with his writing and how he does it, and would also engage readers who are less familiar with his work. All I ask of my sf criticism is that it leaves me better informed about what I have read, and eager to try what I haven't, and this incisive and succinct analysis did both for me. Strongly recommended.… (more)
nwhyte | May 17, 2021 |
Some very interesting pieces and some not so interesting. My personal favourites in this anthology are Red_Bati, but Dilman Dia, which is an exciting and well-written story of an AI; and Paul Kinkaid's extract on Christopher Priest. Worth a read.
elahrairah | May 1, 2021 |
This book is an academic monograph covering the entire sf corpus of Iain Banks-- a man whose work I have read distressingly little of (just The Bridge, The Wasp Factory, and The State of the Art). Despite that, I could tell that this was a strong piece of literary criticism, providing a couple threads that pull you across Banks's work; Kincaid emphasizes the Culture as a society, Banks's experiments with form, and Banks's anti-great man reworking of the space opera genre, among other things. It made me even more distressed at how little Banks I have read. (Also, there was a citation of Bill Hardesty, an undergraduate professor of mine partially responsible for my graduate school career, so that was nice.)… (more)
1 vote
Stevil2001 | 3 other reviews | Aug 10, 2018 |


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