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November Books 4) The Prestige

4) The Prestige, by Christopher Priest

Haven't read a lot of Christopher Priest - I know three of his earlier books, being a bit underwhelmed by Fugue for a Darkening Island and A Dream of Wessex , but totally blown away by Inverted World. And The Separation was one of the first books I blogged here, back when I was still getting into it. But with the coming con I thought I should renew my acquaintance with his work.

I wondered at first if The Prestige actually had any sfnal content at all, or if it was going to qualify as genre only in the same way as The Syſtem of the World. But by the end of the story it's pretty clear that this is science fiction, though in a particularly creepy and eerie way; the story of two rival stage magicians at the turn of the nineteenth/twentieth centuries, combined with the technology of Nikola Tesla, and all kinds of questions about family secrets and unreliable narrators. I really enjoyed it.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 11th, 2007 09:35 am (UTC)
I also really enjoyed The Prestige. The layer upon layer of story line contributed to intrigue and the overal impact of the book.

I don't know if you attended a session at Worldcon in Glasgow where Chrisopher discussed The Prestige. He said it was total misdirection and that it epitiomized everything he tried to do in his fiction. Even with that warning, and the clues and suspicions that were in my mind while reading the book, I was still taken by surprise in the end.

It was after that Worldcon session that I went down to the dealers' room and bought The Prestige.

I have The Space Machine on my shelf for reading. Have you read that at all?
Nov. 11th, 2007 10:59 am (UTC)
There wqas a great review of "The Space Machine" by Brian Stapleford in "Foundation" in the mid-1970s. He got the books number exactly, but TSM was deliberate attempt by CP to write a different kind of book. "The Affirmation" is superb, one of the most important postwar British novels and the reason why CP was named one of "Granta"'s Twenty Young British Novelists in 1983. "The Glamour" is almost as good as are many of the short stories from the same period collected in "An Infinite Summer". CP is an uneven writer, both locally (I find many of his sentences clumsy and leaden - one reason I suspect why he is so well regfarded in Europe - in another language, the heaviness will just be taken as an artefact of translation) and globally (he doesn't always manage to pull off the various conceits around which his novels are based), but he is probably still *the* major British sf writer of the last thirty years.
Nov. 11th, 2007 04:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the information on the other titles. CP is someone I intend to read more of.
Nov. 11th, 2007 11:00 am (UTC)
i think i need to read the book. the film was a bit butchered. I found the portrayal of Tesla quite a bit unhinged
Nov. 11th, 2007 03:39 pm (UTC)
Wow, I didn't even know the film was based on a book. And I've not seen it either, but had it highly recommended to me.
Nov. 11th, 2007 08:37 pm (UTC)
The film is fantastic, may I add myself to the people that recommend it. I didn't think Tesla was in any way unhinged, and the physicists that I went to see it with loved the lightbulb bit if only because that actually happened.
Nov. 11th, 2007 10:53 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed the book, but it was one of the rare cases in which I thought the movie was better. The modern-day narrative frame didn't appeal to me.
Nov. 12th, 2007 09:02 pm (UTC)
I didn't know The Prestige was a book to start with. I was a bit disappointed at the movie, I think they could have made more out of it. I might get me the book, just to find out what's different about the two versions and which one I and up liking most :)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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