Scots author Iain Banks celebrated by deep dives adventurer

By Steven McKenzie
BBC Scotland Highlands and Islands reporter

image captionDunfermline-born Iain Banks died in 2013

The late Scottish author Iain Banks has been remembered in a US adventurer's expedition to visit the deepest points in every ocean.

Victor Vescovo is the first person to complete the feat, diving in a submarine named after a spaceship in Banks' science-fiction stories.

The fan of Banks' work called the sub Limiting Factor.

The vehicle was used to reach the floor of the Pacific, Indian, Southern and Atlantic oceans.

Other vessels in the Five Dives Expedition, including Limiting Factor's support ship Pressure Drop, were also named after spaceships or drones in Banks' books.

The deepest of the dives was a 10,924m drop to the bottom of the Marianna Trench in south east Asia. Mr Vescovo and his team are now preparing to use the vessels in setting new maritime records.

'Great novels'

Banks died aged 59 in 2013, two months after announcing he had terminal cancer.

Born in Dunfermline, Fife, he was best known for his novels The Wasp Factory, The Crow Road and Complicity.

image copyrightAtlantic Productions/Discovery Channel
image captionThe submarine Limiting Factor on a dive
image copyrightCaladan Oceanic
image captionThe submarine's name was inspired by Banks' writing

He wrote his science-fiction books, including Consider Phlebas and The Player of Games from his Culture series of stories, under the name Iain M Banks.

Mr Vescovo, a millionaire financier, became hooked on Banks' science-fiction around 2010 after reading The Player of Games.

"I loved it so much I started reading the whole series," said the adventurer, who completed his dives of the Molloy Deep and Marianna, Java, South Sandwich and Puerto Rico trenches last year.

"The partnership of human beings and machines has only just begun and I have always been a big believer in doing all we can to push technology forward, to make us safer and better as a species. Mankind is at its best when augmented - but not replaced - by great machines, and Banks illustrated this brilliantly."

'Met in a bar'

Mr Vescovo said naming Five Deeps Expedition vessels after Banks' spaceships was his "tip of the hat to his great novels".

image copyrightTamara Stubbs/Five Dives Expedition
image captionAdventurer Victor Vescovo has spoken of his passion for Banks' science-fiction writing

He said: "Alas, I never did meet Banks and I am so sorry that I never got that chance.

"However, the chief scientist on my expedition, Dr Alan Jamieson and a Scot, once met him in a bar."

The connection with Banks is continuing through Mr Vescovo's ongoing and future expeditions.

He said: "We are just wrapping up some historical and science dives in the Mediterranean, followed by more science expeditions in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, and then back to the Western Pacific for even more heavy science and military wreck dives that have never been visited before.

"We look forward to adding more "firsts" to the history of the submersible Limiting Factor and support ship Pressure Drop."

image copyrightReeve Jolliffe/Five Dives Expedition
image captionLimiting Factor and support ship Pressure Drop

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