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RIP Iain M Banks

Night was falling as Max walked down the country road alongside Toby, the man who had picked him up hitch-hiking earlier that day. They were on their way to a pub that overlooked the sea as it ebbed and flowed against the southern coast of Cornwall. For the next two days Max, Toby and Toby's friends would camp in a nearby quarry, overgrown with wildflowers, filled with early electronica ebbing and flowing from speakers they were running off a generator. 

Toby had been driving to the quarry a day early and with a free seat in his small car because of a break-up. Picking up a hitch-hiker had been a nice distraction. After hours of English scenery and philosophical conversations, Toby had invited Max to the annual gathering. 

As they walked that first night, later on the in deepening dark, Max saw a murder of crows perched on one of the old, stone fences that laced the landscape like fossilized veins. Crows had been Max's totem ever since the initiation he underwent at age 18. A few days earlier, when Max had been in London, he found a book called The Crow Road - he had never heard of it or the author before and had no idea what it was about. He bought it for the symbolism; it was in the pack slung over his shoulder.

Walking down the road, watching the crows in the field, thinking about the book, Toby, the man who had happened to pass him on the highway earlier that day, who happened to have room for and need of company, suddenly asking him, "Have you ever read The Crow Road?"