Noted author Iain Banks has died aged 59. In a message released on Sunday, June 9, his wife said: “Iain died in the early hours this morning. His death was calm and without pain.”

Born in 1954 Banks first rose to prominence in 1984 with the publication of his debut novel The Wasp Factory. Following the mentally troubled Frank Cauldhame the book both impressed and shocked critics by how it managed to make the reader sympathise with the violent protagonist.

A highly prolific writer Banks was also known for his works of science fiction (SF), written under the name Iain M. Banks. The majority of his SF books were set in the Culture universe – a highly optimistic vision of a technologically advanced utopia. While often classified as space opera and known for their high stakes and large scale plots his SF novels, just as his more mainstream work, were also notable for their focus on complex and well developed characters.

Tributes for the author have poured in from both fans and colleagues ever since he announced on April 4 that he had inoperable cancer of the gall bladder. Writing in The Guardian friend and fellow author Ken Macleod said that Banks “raised the bar, raised the game, and above all raised the serotonin level of British SF” adding that “his verve and talent will always be recognised, and his work will always find and enthral new readers”.

Banks’ final work – the mainstream novel The Quarry – will be released on June 20.