10 Best Authors Like Iain M. Banks: Explore the Depths of the Science Fiction World

Discover our guide to authors like Iain M. Banks and prepare to explore new worlds and complex themes.

Iain M. Banks was a seminal figure in the science fiction genre, renowned for his vivid imagination, complex world-building, and intelligent explorations of political and social issues. His novels often centered around complex societies and interstellar civilizations, where advanced technology, artificial intelligence, and extraterrestrial beings played a central role.

Banks received numerous awards during his lifetime, including the British Science Fiction Association Award, the Hugo Award, and the Nebula Award. In this list, we will explore ten other science fiction and fantasy authors whose works share similarities with the unique style and thematic preoccupations of Iain M. Banks. Do authors use Grammarly? Find out in our guide!

Best Authors Like Iain M. Banks Ranked

1. Philip K. Dick, 1928 – 1982

Philip K. Dick
Photo of Philip K. Dick sitting in a chair, looking sideways

Philip K. Dick was an acclaimed American science fiction author whose works delved into complex philosophical, social, and political themes. He gained worldwide recognition with his novel The Man in the High Castle. He followed that up with Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, later adapted into the iconic movie Blade Runner. Apart from his literary achievements, Dick was known in close circles for his alleged paranormal experiences, which included eerie visions and bizarre encounters with extraterrestrial entities. Dick’s work has since been adapted into a television series.

If you like reading sci-fi books, you might want to explore our round-up of the best authors like Stephen King.

“Perhaps if you know you are insane then you are not insane. Or you are becoming sane, finally. Waking up.”

Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle
The Man in the High Castle
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Dick, Philip K. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 290 Pages - 01/24/2012 (Publication Date) - Mariner Books Classics (Publisher)

2. Ursula K. Le Guin, 1929 – 2018

Ursula K. Le Guin
Black and white photo of Ursula K. Le Guin sitting with arms crossed on her lap

Recipient of both the Hugo and Nebula awards, Ursula K. Le Guin, was a renowned American author best known for her award-winning novel The Left Hand of Darkness. Her works, like those of Iain M. Banks, often explored complex social and political issues through the lens of science fiction. Interestingly, Le Guin was the daughter of a well-known anthropologist, and her upbringing in a household of academia greatly influenced her writing style later in life.

“It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”

Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness
The Left Hand of Darkness: 50th Anniversary Edition (Ace Science Fiction)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Le Guin, Ursula K. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 367 Pages - 07/01/2000 (Publication Date) - Ace (Publisher)

3. Neal Stephenson, 1959 –

Neal Stephenson
Black and white photo of Neal Stephenson sitting on a stool

Neal Stephenson is an American writer known for his thought-provoking science fiction novels, such as Snow Crash. Like Iain M. Banks, Stephenson’s works often feature intricate world-building and explore complex political and social issues. True to his passion for world-building, Stephenson is a skilled programmer and, in the 1990s, helped to found a company that created a virtual world for gamers. He continues to work closely with software engineers on the cusp of leading technology.

“The world is full of power and energy and a person can go far by just skimming off a tiny bit of it.”

Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash
Snow Crash: A Novel
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Stephenson, Neal (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 480 Pages - 08/26/2003 (Publication Date) - Spectra (Publisher)

4. Kim Stanley Robinson, 1952 –

Kim Stanley Robinson
Photo of Kim Stanley Robinson speaking into a microphone

Award-winning author Kim Stanley Robinson has received a lot of critical praise for his scientifically credible and finely produced science fiction novels, such as Red Mars. His writings, like those of Iain M. Banks, delve into complex social and political concerns and environmental ones. Robinson’s insatiable hunger for information has driven him to go to some of the world’s most remote locations, such as Antarctica, in search of first-hand experiences to include in his writing. This lends a taste of realism to Robinson’s works that fans appreciate.

“The urge to excel and the urge to lead aren’t the same. Sometimes I think they may be opposites.”

Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars
Red Mars (Mars Trilogy Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Robinson, Kim Stanley (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 608 Pages - 05/27/2003 (Publication Date) - Spectra (Publisher)

5. Octavia Butler, 1947 – 2006

Octavia Butler
Photo of Octavia Butler signing a copy of her book

American science fiction legend Octavia Butler is most remembered for her groundbreaking work Kindred. Her books, like Iain M. Banks’ works, frequently explore nuanced social and political topics, emphasizing racial and gender inequality. Notably, dyslexia was a defining factor in Butler’s personal life, but she overcame it through pure willpower and perseverance. In a twist of fortune, Butler was heavily bullied as a child, forcing her to retreat into reading, which propelled her into a career as an award-winning author.

“There was no shame in raping a black woman, but there could be shame in loving one.”

Octavia Butler, Kindred
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Butler, Octavia E. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 306 Pages - 02/01/2004 (Publication Date) - Beacon Press (Publisher)

6. William Gibson, 1948 –

William Gibson
Photo of William Gibson looking off into the distance

The American-Canadian author William Gibson is widely regarded as a pioneer in the field of cyberpunk with his debut novel Neuromancer. His works are similar to Iain M. Banks’ work in that they deal mostly with dystopian themes and examine the relationship between technology and society. Gibson’s childhood was a breeding ground for the dystopian worlds he would later describe in his novels. His family often moved because of his father’s job, who then died while away on a business trip. After that, his mother suffered from anxiety and depression while Gibson struggled as an unpopular teenager who never really fit in.

Looking for more sci-fi novels to read? Check out our round-up of the best authors like Terry Pratchett!

“His ugliness was the stuff of legend. In an age of affordable beauty, there was something heraldic about his lack of it.”

William Gibson, Neuromancer
Neuromancer (Sprawl Trilogy Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Gibson, William (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 268 Pages - 07/01/2000 (Publication Date) - Ace (Publisher)

7. Gene Wolfe, 1931 – 2019

Gene Wolfe
Candid shot of Gene Wolfe wearing a tuxedo

Gene Wolfe was a distinguished American author of science fiction and fantasy. His acclaimed novel series, The Book of the New Sun, is among his most notable works. Like the writings of Iain M. Banks, his plot lines often revolved around intricate themes of politics and authority while also showcasing his unique literary style and sophisticated narrative approach to the genre. Wolfe was the deserving recipient of numerous coveted honors, including the prestigious Nebula and World Fantasy Awards.

“I no longer knew in what direction the surface lay, and I was no longer conscious of the water as water.”

Gene Wolf, The Book of the New Sun

8. Frank Herbert, 1920 – 1986

Frank Herbert
Photo of Frank Herbert speaking into a microphone to an unseen audience

Frank Herbert was a renowned science fiction author from the United States, mainly celebrated for his masterpiece Dune, which was twice adapted into a movie. His style, reminiscent of the works of Iain M. Banks, is characterized by intricate world-building, multi-layered political systems, and fascinating characters. Dune was a trailblazing work that won several highly-coveted awards, including the Hugo and Nebula Awards, cementing Herbert’s status as a leading figure in the genre. An early reader, Herbert could read an entire newspaper by age five and subsequently began his writing career as a journalist before turning to fiction.

“Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.”

Frank Herbert, Dune
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Herbert, Frank (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 892 Pages - 08/26/2003 (Publication Date) - Ace (Publisher)

9. China Miéville, 1972 –

China Mieville
Photo of China Miéville seated in a chair

China Miéville is a prolific British author recognized for his contributions to the science fiction and fantasy genres, with his novel Perdido Street Station being among his most famous works. Much like Iain M. Banks, his writing confronts complex issues of politics and society yet often defies categorization. Mieville is known for his extraordinary creativity, vividly imaginative style, and ingenious use of language, which has won him numerous awards and critical acclaim. Miéville is very politically active from a socialist point of view and often integrates politics into his works. You might also enjoy these authors like Michael Crichton.

“The costermonger below the descending basket looked up into flat sunlight and a shower of brick particles.”

China Miéville, Perdido Street Station
Perdido Street Station (Bas-Lag Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Miéville, China (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 640 Pages - 07/29/2003 (Publication Date) - Del Rey (Publisher)

10. Ted Chiang, 1967 –

Ted Chiang
Closeup photo of Ted Chiang seated in front of a bookcase

Ted Chiang is an accomplished science fiction author from the U.S. whose celebrated work has earned him wide critical acclaim and a broad reader base. Among his many other works, Chiang is the author of Arrival, adapted into a movie. Much like Iain M. Banks, his writing style centers around exploring complex, mind-bending themes while pushing the genre’s boundaries in new and exciting ways. Chiang’s stories are renowned for their literary depth, thought-provoking philosophical musings, and masterful technical precision, which have garnered him numerous prestigious awards and a devoted following of readers. Check out our guide with great writing advice from authors to begin writing your own novel!

“For the first time, he knew night for what it was: the shadow of the earth itself, cast against the sky.”

Ted Chiang, Arrival
Arrival (Stories of Your Life MTI)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Chiang, Ted (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 279 Pages - 11/01/2016 (Publication Date) - Vintage (Publisher)

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