Iain M Banks was born in Fife in 1954, and was educated at Stirling University, where he studied English literature, philosophy and psychology. He came to widespread and controversial public notice with the publication of his first novel, The Wasp Factory, in 1984. His first science fiction novel, Consider Phlebas, was published in 1987. He has continued to write both mainstream fiction (as Iain Banks) and science fiction (as Iain M Banks). He is now acclaimed as one of the most powerful, innovative and exciting writers of his generation.