Wednesday, December 15, 2004

[sf] Inverted World, by Christopher Priest.

It’s a mathematical thriller … and at points, a mathematical action-movie. Inverted World has a twist, but really that’s just icing. What it does well is convey exactly what it would be like to live in a world where the geometry and physics are way out of whack with our own.

The story also neatly sets up a tension right at the beginning by letting us meet a character who doesn’t reappear for 150 pages – but the fact that she’s so prominent at the start gives her role in the book’s resolution a lot of significance.

Weirdly though, this is a book about an idea. The lead character doesn’t really have a character – he obeys orders, experiences weirdness and is generally reactive.

Svend was talking about sf novels that try to be literature. I think this book falls into that camp, but around the era this book was being published, you had the cosy-British-disaster novels (Triffids, Kraken Wakes) and the New Wave – of which this seems to be an example. Some of the New Wave, for instance J.G. Ballard by the time he’s hitting High Rise and Crash is definitely in the literature section of the tennis court … maybe because they’re moving sf into the realm of the contemporary world.

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