I read that yesterday. I adore his science fiction, he's one of the most original authors around today, and in my opinion one of the greatest science fiction writers EVER! To those of you who haven't read any of them, please do! You won't regret it. ( He writes sci-fi under Iain M. Banks, and his non-sci-fi under Iain Banks, without the M.) My favourite is The Algebraist.
Tony, I had just finished reading Dark Side of the Sun and Strata again, and I had commented to my daughter only a few days ago that I considered them underrated and that there was a definite Banks-ish quality about them, so I can see the link. I'm convinced Iain drew something from them.
In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded.