Christopher Priest

Fried Egg

Well-Known Member
Nov 20, 2006
I couldn't find any threads discussing the work of Christopher Priest so I thought I'd start one.

I haven't read anything by this author other than a short story entitled "I, Haruspex" which I thought was very good. I would love to hear some recommendations for novels and/or story collections. I realise he's had quite a long career.

I have spotted the following reviews on the site:

A Dream of Wessex by Werthead
The Affirmation by Werthead
The Prestige by Werthead
The Separation by Werthead
The Separation by Anthony G Williams

But what are his best books? Where's the best place to start?
Hey great idea Fried Egg!

I'm currently reading his collection Dream Archipelago, so I'll post some brief thoughts on this once I'm done.

I don't have Dream Of Wessex but do have most of his other novels that I'm interested in. I intend to complete my Priest canon in 2010.

As those reviews show and from my own experience, I don't think/am aware there's anywhere specific you need to start with Mr. Priest.

Certainly for novels basically any of the ones we've been referring to in recent days would be good places to start (perhaps The Prestige or Inverted World as they're both highly acclaimed AND easily available in more than one edn. ) and I think Dream Archipelago, although I'm not very far through it yet myself, is probably a good place to begin for a story collection.

A timely thread indeed...:)
Another author I want to discover! The film The Prestige was a good un!
Wish I still had that copy of Inverted World with its distorted scantily clad ladies on the cover…
Narrators are unreliable, nothing is what it seems at first glance and everything hides secrets...

My favourites are probably "The Glamour" and "The Prestige"

Which are perhaps the least baffling of his works - some of his other books have left me a distinct feeling that I grasped only about 10% of what was going on.
A long overdue thread, for sure!

For me, Priest's writing 'clicked' when I read The Affirmation. I think it's a sort of key to all his works. The Glamour and The Prestige are both excellent too. I'll have to go back and re-visit The Seperation,which I read before The Affirmation and I'm afraid rather went over my head at the time. Subtle shifts in reality and perception are Priest's stock-in-trade; I didn't quite grasp this as first. As Hypnos says, it can be hard to grasp what is going on, but once you realise that Priest is laying on the uncertainty on purpose you can start exploring the whys and wherefores of the different levels of reality instead of obsessing on piecing out which strand is 'true' - an exercise best left for last.

It also strikes me that if one were asked to construct 'an English PKD', Christopher Priest may well be the result.
Chris is a wonderful writer. I was honoured enough to publish a new short story by him, "Fireflies", in the Celebration anthology.

160 Celebration NewCon Press : NewCon Press

This is a new tale in the Dream Archipelago sequence but wasn't included in the recently reissued and expanded version of the book, because, Chris tells me, he's currently working on an expansion of the piece.

Can't wait to see what he produces.
Thanks for the information Ian.

I'm currently reading Chris's newly released Dream Archipelago amongst other things and enjoying it so far.
I'd say his most approachable first novel is The Prestige, which is (relatively) straightforward, although still featuring a mindblowing ending.
I'm happy to read The Prestige is different than the movie. That movie is hard to forget.

Still i'm gonna read The Inverted World as my first book of him.
I've read The Prestige, and enjoyed it, but I still think the movie is better, and this is probably only the second time I've ever felt that way.
When will you be reading it? I'm reading my copy within the next 2-3 weeks, so perhaps we can compare notes?...;)

2-3 weeks tops before i read it. I'm reading The City & the City right now. After that i will order The Inverted World.

I'm on good SF roll at the moment.
A few years ago I tried The Dream Archipelago and didn't like it, the writing itself was reasonably good, but I often didn't feel I really understood what the stories were actually trying to say.

I guess that was probably about 4 or 5 years before the film of The Prestige came out, I often don't give authors a second chance if I'm really disappointed by their first book, but I gave Priest a second chance because the film's premise did sound intriguing so I picked up the original novel (before the film was released, although in the end I saw the film before reading it). I thought The Prestige was very good with clever plotting and an interesting structure with the two sets of diary entries giving the two different interpretations of events. The haunting ending was particularly good, I'd say one of the more memorable endings I've read.

I've read The Prestige, and enjoyed it, but I still think the movie is better, and this is probably only the second time I've ever felt that way.

I liked both book and film, but overall I think I'd agree with you. Whilst the book's ending has more impact than the (very different) ending of the film (which was also a fairly good ending), I did think the film made the earlier parts of the story more interesting than the book did.
I'm reading "Inverted World" at the moment and am completely absorbed by it. I love trying to envisage this strange world and it's fun gradually discovering it's nature through the eyes of the protagonist who is also trying to understand this mystery.

The more I read of Christopher Priest, the more impressed I am. He really is a great author.
I agree.

Inverted World is one of Chris' early novels but still an excellent read. I don't think I've ever read anything by him that is not good.

For me Christopher Prist is in my top dozen or so contemporary SFF writers.

More people should read his work!!
I've recently finished reading Inverted World.

Yes, a truly absorbing book but I felt underwhelmed by the ending. Nor was I entirely convinced by a number of other ideas in the book, but I'm probably just being a bit picky.

I loved the description of Helward's journey south and the portrayal of Earth City's moral bankruptcy. I'll definitely be checking out more of his work.
The more I read of Christopher Priest, the more impressed I am. He really is a great author.
So much so he's in my small group of authors of whose entire oeuvre I'm actively collecting. Others in mainstream SFF include gaiman, dunsany, mckillip, Williams, Wolfe, martin, m john Harrison and Jeff vandermeer.

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