Who will replace him and Terry Pratchett who is also very ill? Oh wailey, wailey, wailey!! Crivens, it's a hard wold. (Sorry those are Pratchett quotes rather than Banks quotes, but I happen to be reading a Tiffany Aching book at the moment.)
From Banks' last message:
...an ex-neighbour of ours recalled (in an otherwise entirely kind and welcome comment) me telling him, years ago, that my SF novels effectively subsidised the mainstream works. I think he’s just misremembered, as this has never been the case. Until the last few years or so, when the SF novels started to achieve something approaching parity in sales, the mainstream always out-sold the SF – on average, if my memory isn’t letting me down, by a ratio of about three or four to one. I think a lot of people have assumed that the SF was the trashy but high-selling stuff I had to churn out in order to keep a roof over my head while I wrote the important, serious, non-genre literary novels. Never been the case, and I can’t imagine that I’d have lied about this sort of thing, least of all as some sort of joke. The SF novels have always mattered deeply to me – the Culture series in particular – and while it might not be what people want to hear (academics especially), the mainstream subsidised the SF, not the other way round.
To me, the Culture books have also always been very important. You can say stuff in SF that you simply can't in mainstream novels. You can colorfully dramatise speculation about the nature of reality and consciousness, whereas mainstream novels tend to be either just thrillers or about the wee issues between a guy and his dad.
By the way, how do you find new good authors? I’ve read many many authors, and there’s a looooooong haul between finding the ones with the special high-awareness, high skill, aesthetic and humorous qualities of a Pratchett, a Banks, or a William Gibson. Almost everything else I try is just blah.