Top positive review
3 people found this helpful
Superb novel; justifiably back in print.
on 19 May 2010
I keep meaning to read more Christopher Priest - all I have read until now is the excellent The Separation (also unreservedly recommended).
This is an absolutely superb novel - and I'm not entirely sure why it's been so neglected until now.
The main character, one Helward Mann, comes of age at the start of a novel and, following in his father's footsteps, joins the "Futures Guild." It's quickly clear that the world his people inhabit is an extremely unusual one. The details of this are drip-fed to the reader as Mann learns more about his world: essentially the (high) concept is their world is an infinite world within a finite one.
The plot itself is well-handled; Mann travels as far as he can in order to discover (and reveal to us) why things are the way that they are. This is done in beautifully spare prose. It never feels at any stage as though any words are wasted. Which is pleasant in of itself; it has the pleasing effect of making this an almost poetic novel (indeed Adam Roberts, in the introduction, reflects on the inherently poetic nature of the infinite within the finite). One does suspect that in a lesser author's hands we could have ended up with a horribly bloated doorstop of a fantasy novel.
There *is* a twist. Helpfully, they tell you this on the front cover...argh!
Finally, although this was written in 1975, I don't feel that it has dated particularly badly. What technology there is isn't central to the working of the novel and the concept itself (though fairly dubious) though central to the novel doesn't feel particularly bound by any time.