Iain M Banks is an author of pure, hard core, classic science fiction. He invented The Culture, a galaxies-spanning civilization where carbon-based sentient beings co-exist harmoniously with artificial intelligence beings.
Each novel in the series (plus the short stories) can be read out of order as it is The Culture which is a continuous backdrop, not a character. These novels are, oft times, hard going and not easy to read, but deliver such rewards to the persevering sci-fi reader. The author’s sense of humour is a deft touch; in The Player of Games one of the sentient starships bears the self-chosen name of Just Read the Instructions.
Iain also wrote mainstream novels under the name of Iain Banks, set in contemporary backgrounds. His publishers used his middle initial M (for Menzies) to denote the science fiction works. He continued to deliver one book per year, alternating between science fiction and mainstream, until his untimely death from cancer in 2013, age 59. Declared by The Times as one of the 50 Greatest British Writers since WWII, the world is a lesser place without more of The Culture novels.