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Inverted World (Pan science fiction) [Paperback]

Christopher Priest
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 April 1979 Pan science fiction
The city is winched along tracks through a devastated land full of hostile tribes. Rails must be freshly laid ahead of the city and carefully removed in its wake. Rivers and mountains present nearly insurmountable challenges to the ingenuity of the city’s engineers. But if the city does not move, it will fall farther and farther behind the “optimum” into the crushing gravitational field that has transformed life on Earth. The only alternative to progress is death.
The secret directorate that governs the city makes sure that its inhabitants know nothing of this. Raised in common in crèches, nurtured on synthetic food, prevented above all from venturing outside the closed circuit of the city, they are carefully sheltered from the dire necessities that have come to define human existence. And yet the city is in crisis. The people are growing restive, the population is dwindling, and the rulers know that, for all their efforts, slowly but surely the city is slipping ever farther behind the optimum.
Helward Mann is a member of the city’s elite. Better than anyone, he knows how tenuous is the city’s continued existence. But the world—he is about to discover—is infinitely stranger than the strange world he believes he knows so well.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan; New edition edition (6 April 1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330256602
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330256605
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 10.2 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,218,635 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

'One of two or three of the most impressive pure-SFnovels produced in the UK since World War Two' ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF SCIENCE FICTION. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Christopher Priest's novels have built him an inimitable dual reputation as a contemporary novelist and a leading figure in modern SF and fantasy. His novel THE PRESTIGE is unique in winning both a major literary prize (THE JAMES TAIT BLACK AWARD and a major genre prize THE WORLD FANTASY AWARD); THE SEPARATION won both the ARTHUR C. CLARKE and the BRITISH SCIENCE FICTION AWARDS. He was selected for the original BEST OF YOUNG BRITISH NOVELISTS in1983. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Partly on the back of the justly-celebrated film of his 1995 masterpiece 'The Prestige', Chris Priest has recently been receiving something a little bit closer to the amount of attention and praise his work deserves. If you've enjoyed other Priest books, you owe yourself a copy of the majestic invention that is 'Inverted World'. High-concept SF can be a joy if undertaken by experts and 'Inverted World' is built around the 'highest' concept SF has seen for a very long time. While coming up with the notion of a world shaped like a hyperboloid with infinite limits at its poles and equator seems difficult enough, putting that notion to work in a compelling fiction seems a harder thing still. And yet Priest pulls it off: the world of his slightly dissociated exploratory Guildsman, Helward Mann, proves to be inverted in more ways than one and to reflect an odd light back on what we take to be our world. Without giving too much away, fans of later Priest books like 'The Affirmation' and 'The Prestige' will find in 'Inverted World' an early but powerful use of many of Priest's most interesting and enduring concerns. Incidentally, the NYRB Classics edition of 'Inverted World' contains a short but significant 'Prologue' which (I think) has never been printed in any of the many British editions that the novel has clocked-up since its initial publication in 1974. (Certainly the 'Prologue' doesn't appear in my old, beloved, 1986 Gollancz edition or the edition in Vol. 2 of the 1999 Christopher Priest omnibus.) The NYRB edition also has an engaging and informative afterword from John Clute, who relates 'Inverted World' usefully to Priest's other works and British SF as a whole. So this edition is well worth acquiring even if you're already a fan.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars who cares about martin amis? 17 May 2008
By emmcol
On his website, Christopher Priest includes a damning review of this book by Martin Amis, presumably on the grounds that if Martin Amis says it's bad, it must be good. In fact it is good, very good indeed. Certainly in my top ten SF. The idea behind it is utterly original. It is set in a universe where all the "spheres" (incl. the earth and sun) are (or appear to be: that is the question) hyperboloids. Some of the passages were responsible for more powerful dreams than any other book has ever caused me.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A forgotten gem 24 Feb 2009
The city of Earth is a strange place. Few of its inhabitants are ever allowed out of the city. The few that are allowed are confronted by a bizarre situation. The city, all its buildings and inhabitants have been hoisted onto tracks and it is being slowly winched across the land. The reason for this and the ultimate destination of the city are unknown. Even stranger is the fact that no one is interested in straying far from the city. Those who do stray are often gone for years and then come back changed, distant and withdrawn, unwilling to talk about what they have seen.

Clearly the central protagonist of the novel is amongst the few who will get to leave the city and slowly learn the secrets of this bizarre world.

Of all weird world novels this novel is set in the weirdest world of them all. The revelations as to what the situation is and why it exists is gradually presented at just the right speed to keep you hooked.

Although in reality the book follows the age-old fantasy travelogue style of merely allowing the central character to wander from one edge of the world to the other, in this case it is worth going along for the ride. The situation is so bizarre that exploration is just what you want to read. The only real fault is that the ultimate revelation as to just what it has all been about is a trifle contrived, but that is ok, otherwise this book would have been perfect and perhaps not be such a forgotten gem.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars interesting idea 18 Aug 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I randomly found this book while browsing. since then, i have bought several others in the SF masterworks series due to this story.

The entire concept is shocking and compelling. the personal struggles, sacrifices and daily routines are actually quite powerful. this book shows what people will do to carry on when they feel they must.

There are some very good parts where Priest descibes how things change during a journey. its rewarding to imagine it as if there yourself, what you would see and feel while moving through some trippy scenery.

Another thing i got from this novel was a broad view of a struggle that must be won at all costs. in a lot of ways this book mainly deals with struggles of varying scale and type.

As the end nears much is revealed and this creates some of the best parts. knowing puts things into context.

Definitely worth reading. i couldnt put this book down.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Sci Fi 8 Jan 2011
By Dim Tim
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book to read on the beach on holiday but was so captivated I finished it in the first two days of my holiday! I won't describe the plot because others have already done that but will say this is one of the most innovative and original sci-fi books I've read in a while (and I've read a lot). Not the usual space opera/end of world stuff you get now-a-days but a story with a great twists at the end. When I ledt the resort I donated the book to the book share scheme - I hope others get to enjoy it as much as I did.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
Interesting perception of the world, and what people are prepared to do to survive in a hostile environment. Very good.
Published 18 days ago by Catharine Melvin
5.0 out of 5 stars Just as good as the first time I read it years ago.
An astounding book with a fantastic premise, how Priest ever thought of it I have no idea. The storyline itself isn't strong but the parts of the book dealing with the main... Read more
Published 27 days ago by Roland
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Read!
The best, and most unusual book I've read in ages!
Published 1 month ago by Mrs. B. Butler
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastically unusual premise told well
This is a very unusual view of a future world; the premise is quite alien but explained simply without giving the plot away. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Nick Singleton
4.0 out of 5 stars a different story
I like how this book is quite different from most sci-fi you will read. My only issue was the end seemed a bit hurried. Read more
Published 4 months ago by A. Street
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
A fairly short book, but no less of a work for that; the plot and characterisations are excellent and the plot twist at the end is delicious.
Published 4 months ago by John Wells
5.0 out of 5 stars Inverted world
Clever concept, really enjoyed it and was the first of his novels I'd read but will seek some more of his work out.
Published 5 months ago by Dan Thurley
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic
Really interesting book, as it unravels itself, I was led down a set of beliefs which gradually convinced me who was doing the right thing, then suddenly everything is thrown... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Mrs K Andrews
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing ideas make this a good read
We don't know where we are exactly. In fact we know what our mobile city dwellers know, which is to say: it's not Earth, the city itself must be kept constantly on the move to... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Mel Powell
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
Conceptually inspired, and with somewhat of a twist in the tail. i'm not sure if I understand the ambiguous ending though; I like my scifi rigorous, and this fels more like... Read more
Published 7 months ago by George P. Salter
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