PASSINGS: Iain Banks, David Jin, Dwight Opperman

PASSINGS: Iain Banks, David Jin, Dwight Opperman
Iain Banks had two parallel literary careers: one as a general fiction author whose twisted plots were sprinkled with brutality, the other as a science fiction writer. (Yui Mok, Associated Press)

Iain Banks

Edgy Scottish novelist


Iain Banks, 59, a Scottish writer who alternately wowed and disturbed readers with his dark jokes and narrative tricks, died Sunday. His publisher, Little Brown, announced his death but did not provide other details.

Banks, whose writing took readers from rural Scotland to the edge of space, said in April that he was terminally ill with gall bladder cancer and that his soon-to-be released novel, "The Quarry," would be his last.

Banks had two parallel literary careers: one as a general fiction author whose twisted plots were sprinkled with brutality, the other as a science fiction writer whose imaginative universes spawned a fanzine and spun out a devoted online following. He even had two names: Iain Banks for the general fiction and Iain M. Banks for the sci-fi.

Banks published his first novel, the dark and funny "The Wasp Factory," in 1984. His first science fiction book, "Consider Phlebas," was published three years later.

His books were both critical and popular successes. "The Crow Road" — which opens with the memorable line, "It was the day my grandmother exploded" — was adapted for television in 1996.

In 2008, he was named one of the 50 greatest British writers since 1945 in a list compiled by The Times of London.

After his cancer diagnosis, Banks canceled all public appearances and married his longtime partner, Adele, saying she had agreed to the honor of "becoming my widow."

David Jin

Developed Grand Canyon Skywalk

David Jin, a Las Vegas businessman who developed the Grand Canyon Skywalk glass bridge in northwestern Arizona and later became entangled in legal battles about it, has died, a company representative said.

David Jin died Thursday at UCLA Medical Center after a four-year battle with cancer, Grand Canyon Skywalk Development spokesman David Weissman said. He was 51.

Jin's death came amid a continuing legal fight over his contractual rights to the Skywalk, a horseshoe-shaped, glass-bottom walkway that has become the Hualapai Tribe's premier tourist attraction. An attorney for the development company said Jin's family will continue to pursue legal rights to Skywalk, in which Jin invested more than $30 million.

Originally from Shanghai, Jin worked in a sweater factory before moving to the U.S. in 1988. His first job in Las Vegas was as a busboy in a Chinese restaurant that catered to busloads of Asian tourists. Investing his savings in the bus company, he told the South China Post in 2006, he lost his nest egg to a business partner.

He bounced back, however, running helicopter tours of the Grand Canyon and party boats on the Colorado River. Through those ventures, he got to know the Hualapai leaders who eventually approved Skywalk. The attraction opened in 2007.


Jin is survived by his wife, Yvonne Jin, son Michael Jin and stepdaughter Catherine Han.


Dwight Opperman, 89, the former president of West Publishing Co. who is credited with leading the legal publishing company into the digital age, died Thursday at his home in Bel-Air after battling liver cancer, according to an announcement from his philanthropic organization, the Dwight D. Opperman Foundation. Opperman became president of West Publishing Co. in 1968, when the company was based in St. Paul, Minn., and was instrumental in leading the company into delivering its services electronically and creating Westlaw, a major online legal research service. West Publishing was sold to Thomson Reuters in 1996 for $3.4 billion.

Times staff and wire reports