IMB passed on to the next astral plane on 9 June 2013 after a battle with cancer – a disease that had been eradicated in the era of Culture in the twenty-ninth century.
One of his last books was The Hydrogen Sonata. One of the main characters is space-ship – yes, spaceships are autonomous entities that look after the trillions of bumbling humans populating the universe. This maverick denizen of deep space is named ‘Ue Mistake Not My Current State Of Joshing Gentle Peevishness For The Awesome And Terrible Majesty Of The Towering Seas Of Ire That Are Themselves The Milquetoast Shallows Fringing My Vast Oceans Of Wrath’. It is of indeterminate ship type and class; it identifies itself as Ue, for Unit (eccentric/erratic). As is usual in most of Banks’ novels, the protagonist is a female albeit with four arms this time.
Culture novels by Iain Banks are set in a post-scarcity period of man’s existence and ‘peopled’ by similar exotically named ships with AIs of vast intellect and unique personality quirks; their processing power is so great that it can only exist in other dimensions. Their conversations across intergalactic space is anthropomorphised and enormously entertaining.