'l have this infantile belief that the more buttons and knobs I've got the better'

The moment when the pair clash is Banks saying that while intellectual liberalism is line. taking on your enemy at the coallace has more el’l‘ect. "I‘he historical problems with the left over the years is that the guns always seem to be terribly short range. Absolutely brilliant at taking to bits people whose traditional programme is like a comma different from your own. but when it comes to dealing with l'ascists or the power structure of the current government. it‘s: “Well. we just expect that"; they don't tear into them like they do with people who should be their allies.~

'I‘ackling this conflict is the fun part as Banks delivers his trademark last-paced driving narrative with bundles of cultural references laid on top (for example. someone muses over the dt)ppclgangerdom of Moby and liabien Barthes). And despite the surelire success of Dead Air (he‘ll probably spend the next few months bashing around with Porno for the number one Scottish novel slot until the next Rebus comes out). it‘s unlikely that he’ll turn his back on sci-ti. You sense that Banks needs that conllict between the genres to keep him in love with his craft.

‘l‘iction is like an equation. when you put a book though this process. Things that become constants in mainstream become variables in science liction: you

can alter human nature and you can alter the laws of

physics. And it you‘re into gadgets. it’s a lot of fun. I have this inl'antile belief‘ that the more buttons and knobs I‘ve got the betterf

Dem/Air. is pure Banks. \Vitlt knobs ol‘l‘.

Dead Air is published by Little, Brown on Thu 5 Sep priced £16.99; Iain Banks reads at Ottakers, Edinburgh, Wed 1 1 Sep, 6.30pm and Waterstone’s, Glasgow, Thu 12 Sep, 7pm.

‘Suddenly we were living in interesting times,’ says Banks whose prolific output slowed last year


11 September and President Bush’s war against terrorism have rocked not just the real world but the arts world too. Words: Miles Fielder

n the immediate wake

of the terrorist action in

New York a year ago. the Toronto International Film Festival cut off its celebration of cinema half way through the two week event. Cinemas went dark in America as Hollywood fretted over releasing films containing ‘sensitive' subject matter (the pointedly ‘nice‘ Keanu Reeves baseball movie Hardball was one of the few films screened). The trailer for Spider-Man. which featured the twin towers. was hastily pulled from cinemas: the ending of Men in Black ll. also featuring the towers. was re-shot.

“Spider-Man: pulled “~

Over the course of the past year, however. Hollywood's attitude has changed. A spate of gung- ho blockbusters - Behind Enemy Lines. Black Hawk Down, Windta/kers - has fuelled America's propaganda war. Film industry big-wigs have advised the Pentagon on possible outcomes of proposed military scenarios. and in the Whitehouse President Bush reportedly atched the

re a liars

Iranian film Khandahar. looking for clues of Bin- Laden‘s whereabouts.

And just as Hollywood has changed its attitude to

/1 1 and events thereafter, so too have the other arts. Paul McCartney headlined a tribute to the heroes of 9/11 in Madison Square Garden (meanwhile radical anti-capitalist hip hop crew the Coup had to rework the cover art to their record. which featured the rappers attempting to blow up the twin towers).

Non-fiction books are filling bookshelves. and. as evidenced by Iain Banks' 9/1 1-themed new novel. fiction writers are getting in on the act too. Comic publishers issued books paying tribute to the real (ie not spandex-clad) heroes of America. The Museum of Modern Art in New York ran an exhibition of photographs snapped by Big Apple residents, while a loose-nit group of established artists called for peace not war.

And last month, Edinburgh's festival played host to a number of 9/1 1 themed theatre shows including a reading by film stars Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins. Stand-up Iranian comic Ornid Djaiili reworked his entire show in light of world events. while just ab0ut every other

Omid Djalili: reworked

comic made reference to 9/1 1. Afghanistan or President Bush.

The arts world continues both to pay tribute to and exploit the terrible events of the past year. And. of course. much art is commerce. Log on to internet shopping sites and you'll find thousands of 9/1 1-themed ‘bargains' Beanie Baby 11 September dolls anyone?

1:? :3-3:t‘ THE LIST 13