Thank you, Iain (M.) Banks, for making my life that little bit richer.
I, like many others, love your books. In fact, I'm thoroughly enjoying Use of Weapons for the third time at the moment. There aren't many writers who can release a book I get genuinely excited, but you're one of the few. I'd even go so far as to say I get a buzz even when I pick up something of yours I'm familiar with. I know I'll get interesting characters, an absorbing plot, and a style and structure I can spend hours analysing before realising I'll probably never get to that level with my own writing.
But you give myself and many other aspiring writers something to aspire towards. I could look at any number of other writers who don't write such excellent, challenging prose and settle for writing to their standard. But because of you I don't want to write to that standard. Even when your work hasn't been at its finest it's been better than 90% of others could dream of producing. Why aim for the ceiling when you can aim for the sky - as inhabited by a certain bearded Scotsman?
I wanted to write this while you're still with us because all too often things remain unsaid until its no longer possible to say things. I owe a genuine debt of gratitude to you, the man who gave us the Culture, The Wasp Factory, The Algebraist, and a dozen others. You entertain and inspire this young SF writer, and you'll be missed.
If you should read this, I apologise for sounding like an appalling suck-up.