Opinions on Christopher Priest please.

Coragem

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Hi all:

I'm looking for more challenging reads these days – very well written, ideally thought provoking with good characters, maybe something that plays about with narrative structure.

I thought of trying The Separation or The Affirmation by Christopher Priest.

What do people think?

To say the least, I think it would be a bit of a break from my usual reading. For example, I've been reading a lot of Ian McDonald lately and more generally my taste is sci-fi with politics and sex and violence and above all very engaging characters.

Coragem.
 

Foxbat

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I've only read a couple of Priest novels - The Inverted World and The Prestige. I love his ideas and originality but find reading his books a bit of a struggle. I'm not sure what the problem is. I wouldn't say they are badly written but I find the structure untidy - but I'm no expert on narrative structure so perhaps it's just me.

Having said that, from what I've read, I would recommend giving him a try.:)
 

iansales

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He's definitely worth reading. The Inverted World is an early and relatively straightforward work. Later books are far more ambiguous and literary. The Separation is very good, as is The Prestige. I've not read The Affirmation, but I have it on the TBR. The Islanders won the BSFA Award, and his latest, The Adjacent, is getting lots of very good notices.
 

Allegra

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I only read The Prestige after seeing the film and liked the book very much. Also have The Affirmation on the shelf waiting to be read - bought it when I saw an amazon review saying the novel is like M.C. Escher's artwork that I love so much. I'll have to look up The Separation.
 

Fried Egg

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I love Christopher Priest, definitely one of my favourite authors and he sounds like he ticks all the boxes you are looking for. "The Affirmation" is fabulous. "Glamour" is also superb. "Fugue of a darkening Island" is a great dystopian/post apocalyptic novel is that's your thing. "Inverted World" is more conventional SF but still a fascinating concept.
 

antiloquax

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I've read The Glamour, The Affirmation, The Prestige and The Inverted World. All impressed me very much. I wouldn't let the film of The Prestige put you off, the book is v. good. I also have The Space Machine, but I have yet to read it.
 

Ian Whates

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Chris has just signed a new three book deal with Gollancz, and a film of his novel The Glamour is due to go into production early next year.

So, although Mr Priest celebrated his 70th birthday this weekend past, there's still plenty more to come from him. Great news for all fans of quality fiction. :)

1044966_10151821947343072_948523477_n.jpg

Ian Whates and Christopher Priest, 12.07.2013
 

Fried Egg

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Chris has just signed a new three book deal with Gollancz, and a film of his novel The Glamour is due to go into production early next year.
Did anything ever come of this?

Since I last posted here, I've read the following books by Priest:

"The Quiet Woman" - 4/5 stars
"The Separation" - 4/5 stars
"The Islanders" - 3/5 stars
"The Gradual" - 5/5 stars
 

Bick

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I'll be interested to see if there is much comment to come on this thread about Priest. There are some authors who just don't seem to appeal for some intangible reason, and as a consequence you never read them. I've never read a single word written by Priest. Should I?
 

Stephen Palmer

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He's quite a mannered, idiosyncratic author, which means you have to like his mannerisms and idiosyncrasies. Some don't. His early novels are good. Of his later ones, The Glamour and The Prestige are worth a look, but I found them rather fussy and un-naturalistic for my taste. (I don't like Radiohead, Queen and Muse for the same reasons.)
 

Toby Frost

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I once went to a talk by Priest. He interesting and polite, although I got the feeling that he very much did things his way or not at all. (He refused to comment on his issues with Harlan Ellison!) He said that, for some of his books, his technique had been to write a rough draft, put it aside and immediately write the whole book afresh, without looking at the earlier draft. Effective, perhaps, but extreme.
 

Venusian Broon

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I'll be interested to see if there is much comment to come on this thread about Priest. There are some authors who just don't seem to appeal for some intangible reason, and as a consequence you never read them. I've never read a single word written by Priest. Should I?
I've noted that we seem to touch on similar authors as worthwhile and interesting, hence I assume some sort of tentative reason for suggesting that you should read something of his. I've read five of Priest's books and got a lot out of them. He is very much of the "new wave of science fiction", coming to prominence in the 1970s and I tend to think of him alongside Ballard.

He is much more experimental and literary than a lot of authors. so expect that - more with ideas rather than writing styles IMO. Expect his novels to be quite different, but well written. Definitely a writer who just does what he wants and does not pander to the market.

I remember being mesmerised by Inverted World and The Prestige. (The latter is more convoluted and complicated than the streamlined movie, so if you have seen that, I do think you will get something by reading the book. Books are virtually always better than their movies!) It has been 30 years or so since I've read Inverted World, and 20 since Prestige so I don't know how I would respond today coming to them a Priest virgin. The Prestige might be a place to start.

For the record, the other novels I've read are Indoctrinaire, The Gradual and The Affirmation, all interesting books.
 

Bick

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Interesting feedback - thanks all. I'll perhaps give him a go at some point. If I do, I'll comment here.
If he's like Ballard, that's a positive, though it also reminds me I want to read more Ballard, so it may delay me getting to Priest!
 

Fried Egg

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Interesting feedback - thanks all. I'll perhaps give him a go at some point. If I do, I'll comment here.
If he's like Ballard, that's a positive, though it also reminds me I want to read more Ballard, so it may delay me getting to Priest!
I wouldn't say he writes much like Ballard at all. To my mind, his prose style is far more engaging and far less abrasive than Ballard's (although I do like some of Ballard's work too).

If you are going to try Priest, one question worth considering is whether you think you'll prefer something more overtly SF or not. His writing in the 80's onwards became far less overtly SF. I am not saying there was a drop off in quality (far from it) but a noticeable change in style.
 

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