I'd never wanted to make Iain's involvement with our book club public, preferring instead to have it as a private badge of pride. It was only after people joined that they would see his name listed as President. Often people would email me or comment on the site saying how cool it was. I've watched members tell people of Iain's involvement and the impressed look on their face always made me quietly (and often not so quietly) swell with pride.
Listening to Iain talk on the subject of Science Fiction and hearing him say that as a writer it was his first love made it cool. Iain is the arch debunker of anti SF snobbery because his consummate skill and success as a writer in both genera and plain fiction gives his words on the subject so much gravitas. I mean who's going to argue with Iain M. Banks?
Iain said he was 'honoured' to be our President and from what I know of him this is typical of his warmth and generosity of spirit that he should say something like this about what is in fact a very small privately run book club.
At 16 years old I moved back to this country and with few friends at first Iain's Consider Phlebas was the first book I ever bought with my own money one lonely evening from a book shop that has since been demolished. I can still remember reading it on the tube home thinking "you can do that in a book?" and missing my stop. I made a friend that night & as we have been learning Iain has a lot of friends.
I last heard from Iain a month or so ago when he sent me a picture of himself for us to display on our new member's evening and I'm sure it will make a lot of people smile. I laughed/snorted coffee out my nose when I saw it.
As organiser of the book club I never just wanted a President, I wanted Mr Iain M. Banks as President. So as long as the book club exists, despite the tragic news of Iain's illness and possibly imminent subliming, he will remain our President. I am so very proud of our connection to him.
Because first and foremost Iain is a fan of Science Fiction, he is 'one of us'.