Iain M. Banks was one of the most celebrated and respected science fiction authors of all time. His popular “Culture” novels are relevant not only because of the way they redefined A.I. stories but also because they inspire real-life innovators, including Elon Musk. And now, Banks’s original, personal vision for how his intelligent starships might look will finally be seen.

On Monday, Orbit Books announced the impending publication of “the original Culture drawings from the Estate of Iain M. Banks.” The book will be released sometime in 2019.

Tim Holman, Publisher of Orbit, says:

“The Culture novels of Iain M. Banks have been enjoyed by millions of readers around the world, and one of Iain’s great achievements is his vision of the Culture itself. These many drawings, maps and sketches reveal both the astonishing imagination behind the Culture and Iain’s passion for every detail of the universe he created. It’s incredible to see how the Culture was taking shape even before he wrote the novels. I’m thrilled that the Estate has given us permission to publish the collection, and that owing to special circumstances Ken MacLeod has agreed to join the team working on it.”

Here’s what the press release says about the book.

“Original drawings by Iain M. Banks, author of the hugely popular Culture novels, will be included in a book that celebrates the author’s vision of the Culture universe. The previously unseen drawings, most of which are annotated by the author, and many of which predate the writing of the novels themselves, will be curated by the Estate of Iain M. Banks and Iain’s life-long friend and science fiction writer Ken MacLeod. With additional commentary by MacLeod, further notes on the Culture, and extracts from the Culture novels, the book will provide a unique insight into the Culture, including its history, language, technology, philosophy and values.”

The book jacket for 'The Player of Games'
The book jacket for 'The Player of Games'

The Culture novels are concerned with a conglomerate of various alien races and humans living in a post-scarcity society 9,000 years in the future. The way the culture in the Culture books happens is mostly through the plans of really advanced A.I.s called “Minds.” The books also feature benevolent and intelligent spaceships. In 2017, SpaceX named two of its drone-ships after ships from Banks’s Culture books.

The Falcon 9 stands up on the droneship "Of Course I Still Love You', the name of which was taken from a ship in an Iain M. Banks book.
The Falcon 9 stands up on the droneship "Of Course I Still Love You', the name of which was taken from a ship in an Iain M. Banks book.

Will Elon Musk be inspired by Banks’s previously unseen drawings to create new, kinds of space vehicles? One can only hope Orbit is already planning on sending him a complimentary copy.

The Iain Banks art book, containing his art for the Culture novels does not have a release date, yet. Orbit says it will be out sometime in 2019.