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Iain Banks Dies of Cancer At 59

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the rest-in-peace dept.

Books 141

An anonymous reader writes "BBC News is reporting that Iain Banks, best known for his Culture series novels and The Wasp Factory, has died of cancer aged 59. It had been announced several months ago that he was suffering from bladder cancer, and he had stated his intentions to spend his remaining time visiting places which meant a lot to him after marrying his partner."

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First post (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43953499)

Cancer sucks...

Re:First post (4, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | about a year ago | (#43953517)

"Life sucks, but death doesn't put out at all...." -- Thomas J. Kopp

Re:First post (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43953619)

Cancer sucks...

Yeah! And bladder cancer no less. If I had it, it'd really piss me off! Although, I understand it's not as much of a pain in the ass as rectal cancer.

Re:First post (4, Insightful)

chipschap (1444407) | about a year ago | (#43953673)

If you ever had cancer yourself you would not make unfunny, insensitive comments. A real loss --- Iain Banks was a terrific writer with a lot to say to us.

Re:First post (2, Funny)

Rinikusu (28164) | about a year ago | (#43953721)

Actually, yes I would.

Re:First post (1)

DFurno2003 (739807) | about a year ago | (#43953755)

"Life sucks, but death doesn't put out at all...." -- Thomas J. Kopp THis was the quote of the day earlier guy.

Re:First post (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43953827)

Of course we would. I just don't think there are things you should see as so perverse that you shouldn't be allowed to make a joke about it. otherwise you end up with a whole lot of censorship.

Nonsense (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43953847)

If you ever had cancer yourself you would not make unfunny, insensitive comments..

Why is it insensitive? Because it makes YOU uncomfortable or because you think that's what you're supposed to say? Get a grip. EVERYONE gets sick and dies so grow up and accept it.

And that is one of the WORST attitude to have around folks who are terminal.

Here's a complaint I hear all too often from the folks who are actually suffering from cancer: when someone is dieing, folks are solemn, sad, and afraid to "offend" - which brings down the mood of the cancer sufferer. Regardless if there's any truth to having a "positive" attitude helping one's recovery, joking about it DOES at least make life a little more bearable for the cancer patient.

I have a father striken and he needs a laugh every Goddamn time he can get it! And when folks are so serious around him; it makes HIM feel bad - the LAST thing he needs.

There are of course limts [cancer.org] and depends on the person - obviously. I have also been around folks who joked about their prosthetic and sometimes had fun freaking kids out.

Cancer makes people very depressed. Actually the thought of dieing makes most people on our culture depressed and uneasy. We are a death phobic society and it's actually irrational. We WILL die - all of us.

tl;dr - Laughing at Death is the best revenge.

Re:Nonsense (2)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about a year ago | (#43954089)

tl;dr - Laughing at Death is the best revenge.

I don't know about you, but I was planning on asking if He fancied a curry before sending me on my way.

Re:Nonsense (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43954763)

SOUNDS GOOD TO ME

Re:Nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43956705)

A better option... [xkcd.com]

Re:Nonsense (1)

Palinchron (924876) | about a year ago | (#43956321)

We are a death phobic society and it's actually irrational.

Why? There's nothing irrational about being scared of something that is in fact bad and dangerous.

Re:First post (3, Funny)

isorox (205688) | about a year ago | (#43954173)

If you ever had cancer yourself you would not make unfunny, insensitive comments.

True, he'd say something like

Yeah! And bladder cancer no less. If I had it, it'd really piss me off! Although, I understand it's not as much of a pain in the ass as rectal cancer.

Some people find joking helps them feel better about bad things.

Re:First post (2)

chipschap (1444407) | about a year ago | (#43954309)

Joking about your own cancer may be stress relief ... joking about someone else's is insensitive at the least.

What's the harm? (3, Insightful)

denzacar (181829) | about a year ago | (#43956311)

They either appreciate the joking and it may actually help, unlike being glum about them which will MOST CERTAINLY cause them harm.
Same goes with pissing them off. [youtube.com]

OR... They are so far gone psychologically that it doesn't matter if you are joking or crying while sitting on top of their head.
So, where's the harm? You either can't make things worse, or there's a chance or making things better.

Oh, right! Now I remember!
It's NOT about the person with cancer - it's about US being seen as someone who "grieves with them in this final moment" and not as an "insensitive jerk making fun of the poor, poor walking dead man".

Pretenses! Right! I keep forgetting that. Silly me.
What can I say... It must be cause it feels kinda selfish and hypocritical to impose the idea on someone that they are already dead, while they are still very much alive - just so I could fit in better with what I think society expects of me, and thus feel good about myself.

Re:First post (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43955473)

Some people find joking helps them feel better about bad things.

I'd say that most do, although many won't admit that in public. In fact, isn't this an established result in human psychology, that hysterical laughter is an escape mechanism in stressful situations, or something like that?

Re:First post (5, Insightful)

andrewa (18630) | about a year ago | (#43955045)

I've had cancer twice now, and the only way I could deal with it was through humour. Lighten up.

Re:First post..score 5 insightfull (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43956615)

> I've had cancer twice now, and the only way I could deal with it was through humour. Lighten up.

Well then, fuck off and die..te-heee heeeeeee !

ps..the same goes for the rest of you immature tossers.........

Re:First post (1)

kungfool (949878) | about a year ago | (#43956923)

I've had bladder cancer (Stage 1 Grade 2 transitional cell carcinoma), and I make jokes about it all the time.

Re:First post (5, Informative)

durrr (1316311) | about a year ago | (#43953763)

Gall bladder cancer, not urinary bladder.

A sad form of cancer as it's almost never detected in time(due to no symptoms and few tests that finds it by incident), find it early, and it have a excellent prognosis, find it late, and it's game over.
Colorectal cancer is somewhat similar in that it grows slowly for a long time before turning lethal, but colonoscopies are much more frequently performed, and symptoms can show earlier.

Jay Lake, too... (1)

LandGator (625199) | about a year ago | (#43954391)

Oregon writer Jay Lake is planning JayWake and his last JayCon; front page story in the E section of the Portland Oregonian http://oregonlive.com/ [oregonlive.com] today (Sunday 2103-06-09) discussing the genetic testing he did after his stage four diagnosis. I'm storing the coffin for the pre-mortem wake in my garage (bought it off Craigslist, of course; where else would you get a slightly used coffin?) http://www.jlake.com/jaywake [jlake.com]

Oh (2)

spongman (182339) | about a year ago | (#43953507)

Oh bugger.

Re:Oh (5, Insightful)

bungo (50628) | about a year ago | (#43953653)

They were my thoughts exactly.

I only discovered him about 5 years ago, and I was looking forward for many more years of Culture novels. I thought there was a lot more he could still explore in that universe.

One thing I would have like to have seen is something that was more focused on things happening inside the Culture and their society. Most of the times he spends some setup time in the Culture, then whips off to the edge of their space to deal with some other civilization. I wanted to learn more about the workings of the Culture.

I guess now I'll never know....

Re:Oh (2, Informative)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about a year ago | (#43953745)

I wanted to learn more about the workings of the Culture.

A world where everyone has everything they could ever want doesn't make for very interesting reading. You can't really have drama without conflict, which I suppose would make Turn to Windward the best choice if you want a book set mainly within the Culture.

Re:Oh (1)

bungo (50628) | about a year ago | (#43953807)

Everyone can have whatever they want, yes... but it doesn't mean that everything has to be harmonious. No large inter-group disagreement is possible? Maybe some significant section want to break away.....

Ok, I'm not a good writer, but Banks was, and I'm sure that he could have some up with something interesting that exposes more of the workings of the Culture.

It just makes me feel a little sad that there is no chance that there will be any more Culture novels.

 

Re:Oh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43953941)

You mean breakaway factions like the Zetetic Elench or the Peace Faction, or the wheeling and dealing going on within the Interesting Times Gang? :-)

Re:Oh (3, Interesting)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about a year ago | (#43954023)

No large inter-group disagreement is possible?

Yes, this was touched upon in the book I named earlier, specifically the groups that were for and against the pylons with the suspended boat-things.

Maybe some significant section want to break away.....

Happened with the Elench and others.

The point I was trying to make is that the sort of problems a person might face in a post-scarcity society are somewhat less interesting than so-called "First World problems"*; Banks would usually use the Culture to provide some contrast with another, less advanced society.

*For example, if we hadn't already had a peek into the reasons behind Quilan's visit then the composer's struggle to avoid meeting him might have been interminably dull.

Re:Oh (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | about a year ago | (#43956503)

It just makes me feel a little sad that there is no chance that there will be any more Culture novels.

Don't neglect his other works, though. IMO his best work was written under his name without the "M" in the middle.

My personal favourites are The Crow Road (which has one of the best opening lines ever) and Complicity, both of which I have re-read several times. The Wasp Factory is equally as good, though I have never been tempted to re-read that.

Re:Oh (1)

Seumas (6865) | about a year ago | (#43954407)

I just started reading some of his stuff this year and I only learned of his cancer when I googled his name this past Friday. I don't want to get political, but every time I see something like this, I can't help but opine on how many times over we could probably have cured cancer by now if we just redirected a fraction of the money we so eagerly dish out to nation-building/oil-grabbing/whatever-the-fuck-we're-doing-in-half-the-fucking-planet-right-now, surveilling our own citizens, and bailing out banks and car companies all to the tune of many trillions of dollars in only a few years.

Death invigorates life, but cancer-caused deaths are one thing we should be doing away with any day now. Not doing so sort of feels like when you see someone's kid die of an easily treatable condition due to some religious belief. "We could have fucking done something about this!!!".

Re:Oh (1)

godel_56 (1287256) | about a year ago | (#43956437)

I just started reading some of his stuff this year and I only learned of his cancer when I googled his name this past Friday. I don't want to get political, but every time I see something like this, I can't help but opine on how many times over we could probably have cured cancer by now if we just redirected a fraction of the money we so eagerly dish out to nation-building/oil-grabbing/whatever-the-fuck-we're-doing-in-half-the-fucking-planet-right-now, surveilling our own citizens, and bailing out banks and car companies all to the tune of many trillions of dollars in only a few years.

We can cure many cancers including his cancer, now. The problem with many cancers is early detection. Ovarian cancer is another obvious target that falls into this category.

Re:Oh (4, Interesting)

Dupple (1016592) | about a year ago | (#43953823)

Just what I thought.

I was lucky enough to meet him a couple of times at readings in the UK. I still think Walking on Glass is my fave.

Take it easy wherever you are

Immortal now. (5, Interesting)

Spottywot (1910658) | about a year ago | (#43953521)

Thank you for giving me a universe that will live in my mind long after your death. You have uploaded your mindstate to me and many others.

Re:Immortal now. (3, Informative)

Athanasius (306480) | about a year ago | (#43953617)

Apparently supportive comments, such as this one, on the blog someone set up for him, http://friends.banksophilia.com/28-2/ [banksophilia.com] (already 'slashdotted' even before this post came up on my RSS feed, so check google cache... but when I did it didn't have the latest post), were a great source of joy for him in his final months.

RIP indeed, it's times like this one might wish there was an afterlife. As it is right now my thoughts are mostly for his family and close friends.

Re:Immortal now. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43955699)

RIP indeed, it's times like this one might wish there was an afterlife.

At the moment Mr Banks really wishes that there wasn't one.

Re:Immortal now. (4, Interesting)

Blue Stone (582566) | about a year ago | (#43955897)

A great article where Iain talks about his thinking behind the Culture - A Few Notes on the Culture [vavatch.co.uk]

FIRSTLY, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY: THE CULTURE DOESN'T REALLY EXIST. IT ONLY EXISTS IN MY MIND AND THE MINDS OF THE PEOPLE WHO'VE READ ABOUT IT.

That having been made clear:

The Culture is a group-civilisation formed from seven or eight humanoid species, space-living elements of which established a loose federation approximately nine thousand years ago. The ships and habitats which formed the original alliance required each others' support to pursue and maintain their independence from the political power structures - principally those of mature nation-states and autonomous commercial concerns - they had evolved from.

The galaxy (our galaxy) in the Culture stories is a place long lived-in, and scattered with a variety of life-forms. In its vast and complicated history it has seen waves of empires, federations, colonisations, die-backs, wars, species-specific dark ages, renaissances, periods of mega-structure building and destruction, and whole ages of benign indifference and malign neglect. At the time of the Culture stories, there are perhaps a few dozen major space-faring civilisations, hundreds of minor ones, tens of thousands of species who might develop space-travel, and an uncountable number who have been there, done that, and have either gone into locatable but insular retreats to contemplate who-knows-what, or disappeared from the normal universe altogether to cultivate lives even less comprehensible.

In this era, the Culture is one of the more energetic civilisations, and initially - after its formation, which was not without vicissitudes - by a chance of timing found a relatively quiet galaxy around it, in which there were various other fairly mature civilisations going about their business, traces and relics of the elder cultures scattered about the place, and - due to the fact nobody else had bothered to go wandering on a grand scale for a comparatively long time - lots of interesting 'undiscovered' star systems to explore...

Farewell, good sir. (4, Insightful)

Amnenth (698898) | about a year ago | (#43953535)

I just bought a couple of his books last week, knowing he wouldn't be around much longer. I haven't had time to fully read them yet (I'm maybe a hundred and fifty pages into Consider Phlebas) but from what I've read so far, the world is now a poorer place for having lost Mr. Banks.

Re:Farewell, good sir. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43953597)

I started with Excession some years ago, and have been working my way through the others. They've all been well worth reading. Mr. Banks death is true loss.

Re:Farewell, good sir. (2)

oldlurker (2502506) | about a year ago | (#43954753)

I started with Excession some years ago, and have been working my way through the others. They've all been well worth reading. Mr. Banks death is true loss.

Excession is still my favourite. Gulp indeed.

Re:Farewell, good sir. (3, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#43953733)

Consider Phlebas is a great book, but difficult to start the series on even if it was the first. Many of the culture series are down right depressing, but worth reading anyway. Excession is probably my favorite, followed by player of games. You do not have to read them in any particular order.

Re:Farewell, good sir. (1)

Intropy (2009018) | about a year ago | (#43953833)

I'm using pretty strict with myself always preferring to read in an optimal order. Obviously that's most important when it's all one continuous plot, but even something like the disconnected sets of Star Wars books I tend to read in order. I've wanted to get into the Culture series. How connected are they? Occasional callbacks I can deal with in whatever order, but any substantial references would probably have me running to release order. Any issues reading it with it not being "done"?

Re:Farewell, good sir. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43953909)

While not having read the entire series yet, I generally read as you do. These books could be self-contained for all intents. There are no real plot carry overs, or over arcing characters that I can tell so far. The most pervasive reference seems to be the Idrian Culture war that is taking place during the first one, and that only extends to 'thems was the dark times"

Re:Farewell, good sir. (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about a year ago | (#43954209)

...or over arcing characters that I can tell so far.

There is one, but it's more of a shout out than anything significant to the plot.

Re:Farewell, good sir. (4, Interesting)

joh (27088) | about a year ago | (#43954127)

You can basically start with whatever book you want, especially since Banks didn't write them in the order they were published anyway.

I would recommend either "Player of Games" or "Surface Detail". The first takes a while before it really takes off but gives you a good grounding into the Culture and has a pretty much single-track and fascinating plot. The latter is more complicated but is full of good stuff (like a murdered and revived slave girl on a revenge mission and some whistle-blower aliens exploring the AI after-live hells of their species).

But frankly, all are read-worthy. You won't stop before you have read them all anyway. His non-SF books are good too, especially since some of them veer quite a bit into the fantastic. "Transition" isn't actually SF, but anything involving things like travelling between parallel worlds is close enough for me...

Re:Farewell, good sir. (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#43956909)

I agree that "Player of Games" is great. It'd be a good starting book to. The primary character is at somewhat political odds with the culture... think of him as an old school conservative in the midst of a bunch of hippies. So he routinely argues with different characters about the culture which gives you a really good idea of how their political system works.

Surface Detail is good to, but I rarely recommend that as a first book because... well... it's really depressing. "Use of Weapons" is the same way... great book but tragic.

Re:Farewell, good sir. (1)

gutnor (872759) | about a year ago | (#43954533)

On the last page of surface details, there is a guy that is talking, and if you have read the other books before you are able to say - "yeah I know that name". And that's basically it, it's not even something that put the story in a new perspective.

Re:Farewell, good sir. (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#43956855)

Basically the books are loosely in chronological order. Many of them are almost impossible to tell where in the timeline they are. "Against a Dark Background" is about a civilization in an orphaned solar system outside of our galaxy... so they have no contact with any of the other books at all. "Consider Phlebas" takes place during the Iridian War (sp?) which is hundreds of years in the past for the rest of the books. The other books may refer to the war, but none of the particular events or characters in the book. The outcome of war is clear even at the beginning of the book (which is one of the ironys of the war) so you're not even spoiling that.

The basic point of the culture series that I got is that despite technological advances, despite political superiority/stability, despite the end to medical problems, lifes big problems are still problems. That is, people, personalities... etc... So each book is really about people in the end. Each has its own point to make, and does not need to borrow from the others. Occasionally he'll mention some large event that happened in another book (like the war) but the point of the books aren't the large events, they are the small and seemingly unimportant decisions of individuals at points in time that seem to make all the difference at that time, but have no real effect over the eons.

You can read them in any order. I'm not even sure that I read them in the correct order. The man was a genius, and wrote some of the best SciFi of our time.

RIP Iain (4, Interesting)

Coisiche (2000870) | about a year ago | (#43953611)

Farewell Sun-Earther Iain El-Bonko Banks of North Queensferry; that's the Culture style name he gave himself once. I don't think there will ever be a fictional place that I wanted to live in as much as your Culture.
I encountered him a few times at Edinburgh Book Festival events and other signings. It was handy being able to say "Make it to Iain, spelled the same way".

Re:RIP Iain (1)

DanielRavenNest (107550) | about a year ago | (#43954771)

Visions of places like the Culture are part of what inspires me to work on post-scarcity machines:

http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Seed_Factories [wikibooks.org]

James P. Hogan's writings are also inspirational (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about a year ago | (#43956117)

His writings help inspire the OSCOMAK idea by me starting about twenty five years ago, but it hasn't gone much anywhere: http://www.kurtz-fernhout.com/oscomak/ [kurtz-fernhout.com]

So, I know what you mean by these sorts of inspirations. A good sci-fi author helps us make a leap of imagination.

I'd recommend Hogan's "The Two Faces of Tomorrow" and his "Voyage From Yesteryear" especially for post-scarcity themes. But he touches on them in his other works too. Also check out his "Code of the Lifemaker" if you like the idea of seed factories.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_of_the_Lifemaker [wikipedia.org]

So, if you like Iain Banks, you may like Hogan's writing. Sadly, James P Hogan died about three years ago of heart disease (which is generally reversible through great nutrition, see Dr. Joel Fuhrman).

Cool stuff that on Seed Factories. Check out the "Open Manufacturing" mailing list though for other people with related interests.
https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!forum/openmanufacturing [google.com]

A key point I've discovered on post-scarcity perceptions and social choices (summarized in my sig):
http://www.pdfernhout.net/recognizing-irony-is-a-key-to-transcending-militarism.html [pdfernhout.net]

Re:James P. Hogan's writings are also inspirationa (1)

0111 1110 (518466) | about a year ago | (#43956385)

I don't find Hogan's prose particularly impressive. I read The Proteus Operation and found it only barely worth reading. I don't find any similarities between the two writers. Well, other than they are now both dead.

All of the great SciFi novelists seem to be dropping like flies and I don't think there is anyone to replace them. I don't think writing novels is something that the Facebook Generation really yearns to do. At least Neal Stephenson is still alive. And Joe Haldeman. But I wonder for how long. Surely their days are numbered.

Inventor of the Lazy Gun (4, Interesting)

Dr. Tom (23206) | about a year ago | (#43953657)

When the Lazy Gun is fired at humans, many different things may occur. An anchor may appear above the person, giant electrodes may appear on either side of the target and electrocute them, or an animal may tear their throat out. Larger targets such as tanks or ships may suffer tidal waves, implosion, explosion, sudden lava flows or just disappear. When fired at cities and other such targets, thermonuclear explosions are the norm, although in one instance a comet crashed into the city.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Against_a_Dark_Background [wikipedia.org]

Another interesting fact about a Lazy Gun is that it weighs three times as much when turned upside down.

Re:Inventor of the Lazy Gun (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#43953773)

And that weapon isn't even the most interesting part of that book. In fact, the entire story has nothing to do with the culture. It's in a solar system that's outside the galaxy. They're just adrift, no stars... hence the name.

Re:Inventor of the Lazy Gun (2)

dkf (304284) | about a year ago | (#43953781)

When the Lazy Gun is fired at humans, many different things may occur. An anchor may appear above the person, giant electrodes may appear on either side of the target and electrocute them, or an animal may tear their throat out.

What about when it is fired by a roadrunner at a pursuing coyote?

Re:Inventor of the Lazy Gun (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#43954671)

Thanks, dude. Off to the bookstore!

Re:Inventor of the Lazy Gun (0)

0111 1110 (518466) | about a year ago | (#43956491)

One of his worst SciFi novels IMO.

This kind of thing is why I went back to school (4, Insightful)

Ambassador Kosh (18352) | about a year ago | (#43953727)

I have been a programmer for about 10 years but I got tired of not really making any kind of a difference with programming. I decided to go back to school to do chemical and biological engineering so I could work on turning new nanotech/biotech treatments for various diseases like cancer into actual shipping products. There are been some lab bench cancer treatments that show 99%+ eradication of cancer within a few days of treatment but apparently it takes several people a year to make one dose. It is just not industrial scale stuff yet.

About a month after I decided to go back to school I found out that my business partner had pancreatic cancer and he died not too long after I started classes. I now have one year left and when I graduate I will hopefully get a job working on turning these cures into real shipping products. I know I may need to move to places like Canada or a western European country to work on real cures since the current profit motive in the USA does not really favor cures.

I just find it sad that this kind of thing continues to happen. We spend so much money and effort on killing people but if we spent even 5% of what we spent on the military we could cure a heck of a lot of these problems.

It is very sad that he died but it does provide yet another piece of incentive for what I will be doing next and I hope it will encourage other people to do the same.

Re:This kind of thing is why I went back to school (3, Insightful)

joh (27088) | about a year ago | (#43954159)

Yeah, when I first read about his diagnosis and prognosis I thought "We're at that really awkward point in which we can find out what someone is suffering from and that and when he will die of it but still can't do anything about it". This is incredibly sad.

Re:This kind of thing is why I went back to school (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43954197)

There are been some lab bench cancer treatments that show 99%+ eradication of cancer within a few days of treatment but apparently it takes several people a year to make one dose.

Right. Citation please.

Re:This kind of thing is why I went back to school (4, Informative)

Ambassador Kosh (18352) | about a year ago | (#43954371)

http://www.medicaldaily.com/articles/14434/20130328/cancer-treatment-cd47-miracle-bullet-breast-colon-bladder-antibody-eat-macrophage-immune.htm [medicaldaily.com]

That is one of the examples at least. Last I read it was very hard to make but is showing amazing results. I have not found out yet if the phase 1 trials happened and how they have gone.

Productions problems seem to be a fairly common things for nanomedicines right now.

Re:This kind of thing is why I went back to school (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43956257)

Thanks for the cite, that's interesting. Here's the PNAS original, if anyone's interested:

http://www.pnas.org/content/109/17/6662.full

OK, so solid tumor cells in humans have a surface protein, CD47, that tells the macrophages of the immune system "don't eat me". This treatment binds monoclonal antibody to the CD47 to defeat the 'don't eat me' signal and therefore the immune cells kill the tumor cells. Note non-cancer cells have the same receptor so there is some concern about toxicity (not a problem in the model expts).

Note that the tumor cells are human, but are transferred into mice for the expt. As anyone near the field knows, cancer has been cured in mice any number of times, so relevance of this to humans is a poor bet on the odds.

I don't see anything about phase I trials in humans, production problems any worse than any other given monoclonal antibody, or 99+ eradication within a few days. I guess I could expect the last point in vitro or in a minimal xenograft.

Re:This kind of thing is why I went back to school (1)

Ambassador Kosh (18352) | about a year ago | (#43956407)

For some reason I couldn't find the article again about the eradication rate. There is so much search pollution on this subject it is often hard to find things.

The production problems is just what I heard from a professor that has worked on making these kinds of drugs.

Some cancer prevetion & treatment options (2)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about a year ago | (#43956003)

Too late for Iain though, sadly (vitamin d, iodine, phytonutrients, etc.): http://news.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3610805&cid=43349347 [slashdot.org]

Also google on cancer and a ketogenic diet (starves cancer cells of the sugar they need).

The sad thing is we could have a post-scarcity society right now, but our ideology gets in the way. Maybe it would not be "The Culture" level, but it would still be pretty neat. But we have not done that, and so many areas of our society, including medicine. remain backward for lack of appropriate investment.

Good luck on your career. Maybe there will be some magic bullets out there to fight cancer someday, maybe you will invent them, but until then, there is still a lot a person can do to prevent and in some cases reverse cancer, even if nothing is 100% guaranteed.

Sadly, we also lost another post-scarcity sci-fi writer, James P. Hogan, a couple years ago to heart disease (a disease generally reversible with excellent nutrition).
http://www.jamesphogan.com/books/info.php?titleID=29&cmd=summary [jamesphogan.com]

A book James P. Hogan told me about:
http://disciplinedminds.tripod.com/ [tripod.com]
"Who are you going to be? That is the question.
      In this riveting book about the world of professional work, Jeff Schmidt demonstrates that the workplace is a battleground for the very identity of the individual, as is graduate school, where professionals are trained. He shows that professional work is inherently political, and that professionals are hired to subordinate their own vision and maintain strict "ideological discipline."
  The hidden root of much career dissatisfaction, argues Schmidt, is the professional's lack of control over the political component of his or her creative work. Many professionals set out to make a contribution to society and add meaning to their lives. Yet our system of professional education and employment abusively inculcates an acceptance of politically subordinate roles in which professionals typically do not make a significant difference, undermining the creative potential of individuals, organizations and even democracy.
      Schmidt details the battle one must fight to be an independent thinker and to pursue one's own social vision in today's corporate society. He shows how an honest reassessment of what it really means to be a professional employee can be remarkably liberating. After reading this brutally frank book, no one who works for a living will ever think the same way about his or her job."

Partner? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43953875)

I don't think homosexuality causes bladder cancer.

RIP, may your children carry on your name for eternity. Jesus will take care of him in the kingdom of heaven.

Re:Partner? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43953907)

Your anti-Semitic views are not welcome here, asshole. Have some respect and show some manners you fucking stinking WASP motherfucker.

Re:Partner? (1)

tragedy (27079) | about a year ago | (#43954557)

You're obviously hopelessly USian. In most of the English-speaking world, "partner" in this context does not mean "homosexual partner" although it can. It just means that the two people are a couple but are not married. To my knowledge, Iain Banks partner was, in fact, a woman.

Re:Partner? (2)

Tapewolf (1639955) | about a year ago | (#43954705)

You're obviously hopelessly USian. In most of the English-speaking world, "partner" in this context does not mean "homosexual partner" although it can. It just means that the two people are a couple but are not married. To my knowledge, Iain Banks partner was, in fact, a woman.

"Shortly after the announcement, Banks married his partner, Adele Hartley, and she survives him." (source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/jun/09/iain-banks-dies-59-cancer [guardian.co.uk] )

(And yes - those sort of comments reminded me of the folks who sprayed the word "paedo" on a house belonging to a paediatrician.)

Re:Partner? (1)

BluBrick (1924) | about a year ago | (#43955543)

Exactly. The term "girlfriend" suggests a lack of maturity (either in the person or in the relationship), "lover" suggests a clandestine arrangement and "fuckbuddy" suggests a lack of emotional attachment (additionally, in most circles, use of the term is frowned upon). "Partner" is the only word I can think of which conveys a relationship with the maturity and completeness of a marriage without actually being a marriage.

Re:Partner? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43955743)

You're obviously hopelessly USian.

No, they're obviously a troll. That's all there is to it.

You will be missed (2)

nicomede (1228020) | about a year ago | (#43953883)

I wish you were fully backed up. I hope you Sublimed somehow.
I really like his novels, I see him in the lienage of Clarke and Herbert in his own Galaxy.

Farewell (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43953887)

I loved his Culture books.

What a shame he wasn't backed up like his characters...

At least he did it (4, Insightful)

joh (27088) | about a year ago | (#43953961)

Iain M. Banks not only managed to revive SF to a point of being relevant once again (to me at least), he also managed to make up a future and a culture that was worth it. He may be dead now but he left something really precious: A possible world that is both interesting and (mostly) peaceful and fun.

I'm really thankful for that.

Re:At least he did it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43956275)

Iain M. Banks not only managed to revive SF to a point of being relevant once again (to me at least), he also managed to make up a future and a culture that was worth it. He may be dead now but he left something really precious: A possible world that is both interesting and (mostly) peaceful and fun. I'm really thankful for that.

(+4, Insightful: Would have been +5, but contained more gravitas than his Mind would have asked for :)

another one bites the dust hey hey (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43954085)

that's one less faggot in the world. i hope his partner is denied any and all death benefits. bladder cancer my ass. he died from sucking one too many cocks.

Re:another one bites the dust hey hey (2)

rich3rd (559032) | about a year ago | (#43954561)

that's one less faggot in the world. i hope his partner is denied any and all death benefits. bladder cancer my ass. he died from sucking one too many cocks.

Funny how you start your homophobic rant by quoting a rock song written and sung by a queer, then you assume that someone referring to Mr. Banks' spouse as his "partner" implies a same-sex relationship. In fact, his partner is a woman, you ignorant piece of maggot slime. Fuck you, hater. I know, I know... YHBT YHL etc.

Iain would laugh at you (1)

joh (27088) | about a year ago | (#43954723)

I really like how in his Culture sex-changes are not only possible but common, with the usual course changing between the sexes one or more times and bearing a child being something even most men do at least once. But then, with at least 400 years at your disposal exploring how it is being a man/woman is something even the most extreme homophobes would try sooner or later... Ranting gets boring after one or two hundred years I guess.

Anyway, if you're a tight-minded human the Culture will induce rages for you, no doubt. They have no problems with drugs too, with all those drug glands engineered in. It's the most liberal, anarchistic (and stinking rich and powerful to the point of godlikeness) society you can think of. Or better, even in ways you probably even couldn't think of, this kind of super-power imagination is one of Bank's many merits.

Re:another one bites the dust hey hey (1)

tragedy (27079) | about a year ago | (#43954565)

I'm just going to repeat myself as I've already written this in response to someone else:

You're obviously hopelessly USian. In most of the English-speaking world, "partner" in this context does not mean "homosexual partner" although it can. It just means that the two people are a couple but are not married. To my knowledge, Iain Banks partner was, in fact, a woman.

Sad news (-1)

isorox (205688) | about a year ago | (#43954195)

I just heard some sad news on talk radio - Sci Fi writer Iain M Banks was found dead in his Maine home this morning. There weren't any more details. I'm sure everyone in the Slashdot community will miss him - even if you didn't enjoy his work, there's no denying his contributions to popular culture. Truly an American icon.

Re:Sad news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43954321)

Not sure if troll, or just 'murican, but I'll bite : your "American icon" was scottish to the bone (you know, the REAL kind, as in born there ;)
Anyway, R.I.P. Iain (M) Banks. Like many others, I was looking forward to new Culture books :(

Scottish Writer (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43954355)

Truly an American icon

Are you trying to be funny? He was Scottish and died in Scotland. A prominent advocate for the independence of his Scotland! He was not American in any way.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/jun/09/iain-banks-dies-59-cancer [guardian.co.uk]

If only the Culture were real... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43954253)

I wish that a passing GCU was able to complete a mind-state backup in time.

Thank you Iain, you gave us hope (4, Insightful)

Morgaine (4316) | about a year ago | (#43954257)

On our primitive planet with its petty preoccupations over power and money, you showed us a vision of the future in which Mankind has managed to transcend the narrow blinkers of its youth, and reaches out to the stars without material greed nor lust for power.

The Culture gave millions of us hope for the future, at a time when government, business and fanaticism seem intent on moving us back towards the barbarism of earlier ages. Your vision will live on in our hearts, come what may.

Thank you.

Re:Thank you Iain, you gave us hope (2)

joh (27088) | about a year ago | (#43954745)

"Money is a sign of poverty" as the Culture says (it has no money). But it did transcend the lust for power in the most straight way: By being almost limitlessly powerful, to make that clear. The technology of the Culture is very much god-like.

Re:Thank you Iain, you gave us hope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43956103)

Technically not a future, but more of a past/present/future running parallel to us.

He will be missed. (1)

physburn (1095481) | about a year ago | (#43954263)

I've read almost every thing by him, the culture books make for great reading, complete with chatty star ship Minds. Also loved some of his non sf book, like complicity and Espida (sp?) Street. Yes his book where somewhat dark particularly many of the ending, but also refreshing in parts. He will be missed.I've read almost every thing by him, the culture books make for great reading, complete with chatty star ship Minds. Also loved some of his non sf book, like complicity and Espida (sp?) Street. Yes his book where somewhat dark particularly many of the ending, but also refreshing in parts. He will be missed.

Fuck (2)

mvar (1386987) | about a year ago | (#43954319)

Very, very sad news, he was probably my favorite scifi author..I hoped he'd manage to see his latest book The Quarry get released before he died, he even worked with his publisher to hasten the release for this summer and now this...fuck

Any news on his last book? (1)

ManiaX Killerian (134390) | about a year ago | (#43954323)

In the announcement he did abot the cancer there was something about one more book from the Culture, are there any news about it?

Re:Any news on his last book? (1)

mvar (1386987) | about a year ago | (#43954373)

Release date is June, 20

Re:Any news on his last book? (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year ago | (#43954597)

It's called The Quarry ISBN 9781408703946

Re:Any news on his last book? (2)

safetyinnumbers (1770570) | about a year ago | (#43954651)

Just to avoid confusion as this was a reply to a question about Culture books, 'The Quarry' is not a Culture book.

Re:Any news on his last book? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43955247)

The last Culture book was "The Hydrogen Sonata".
Ironically about the ending of a civilisation.

Sublime Banks has sublimed (1)

aurum42 (712010) | about a year ago | (#43954413)

I've read almost all of his Culture work, and a couple of his mainstream books (Complicity was fun). A great loss, he will be missed.

Beautiful work - Thank you. (1)

Tim12s (209786) | about a year ago | (#43954647)

RIP Iain M. Banks.

What I found so intriguing about his work is how he took the time to explain how certain significant scientific advancements result in their ultimate effect on economics, psychology, and the human view on the world/universe. A harmony of ideas surrounded by a solid mythology.

-Tim

One more voice (1)

sociocapitalist (2471722) | about a year ago | (#43954889)

I'm just one more to say how saddened I am for the loss of Iain Banks. His novels have touched me as well, and I have not felt the loss of any author as painful since Isaac Asimov passed.

AlthoughI fear otherwise, I sincerely hope that some day our children's children will live in something like the culture.

crow road (2)

Titus Groan (2834723) | about a year ago | (#43955311)

he's away the crow road. I once had the pleasure of meeting Iain and talking with him for a while, although I didn't realise at the time it was Iain Banks I was talking to. He was a lovely man who had his head screwed on well. He'll be missed.

Fuck (1)

Flere Imsaho (786612) | about a year ago | (#43955385)

Goddamn uncaring universe >:-(

If only the credulous assholes were right.

Sleep among the stars (1)

Friend of Nature (1245372) | about a year ago | (#43955467)

With his Culture novels, Iain M Banks is unparalleled in sheer mind-blowing scope and depth. Many of the stories have a strong bitter-sweet quality (such as Consider Phlebas, the first one I read and still one of my favourites), the exception is possibly Player of Games which is a lot more cheerful. Excession is one of very few stories that extrapolate technology in a significant way. Use of Weapons is one of the most horrible stories I've ever read, with it's masterful exploration of the depths of the human psyche. Thank you Iain for the many wonderful, sad, funny, mind-boggling moments I've had reading your books, and may generations of people enjoy the same experience!

Re:Sleep among the stars (1)

tarpitcod (822436) | about a year ago | (#43956389)

Agreed, Consider Phlebas is an outrageously awesome read, it's one of those books that gets the neurons going on so many levels.

Iain M Banks will be sorely missed by those who took the time to read his works.

Ian to Sublime (1)

Harry in the Soup (1252788) | about a year ago | (#43956471)

One of he best sci authors I have read. Hope he gets to "sublime"

Iain Banks is dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43956493)

Iain Banks is dead. Let us all get Alsations drunk, and meet on the corner of Espedair Street.

Ignorant Tagging (3, Insightful)

GrahamCox (741991) | about a year ago | (#43957095)

Whoever added the tag "neverheardofhim", shame on you. Do you always parade your ignorance in public? It's not a virtue you know! Either look him up and educate yourself or just ignore the story if you're determined to be a prat.
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