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on 17 May 2008
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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on 24 February 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 Those who do stray are often gone for years and then come back changed, distant and withdrawn, unwilling to talk about what they have seen.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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VINE VOICEon 10 August 2010
Although none of Priest's novels can be described as conventional, I thought this was perhaps one of the very oddest. The setting is mind-bendingly bizarre. At first the characters seem to inhabit a comparatively normal city, and much of the novel is spent discovering (alongside the hero) its true nature - and exploring the even stranger world which lies beyond its walls.

Inverted World is an extremely compelling novel, which combines a hard sf core with plenty of human interest - in fact at times `Inverted World' reads (superficially at least) like a heroic fantasy novel as we follow the progress of the hero, Helward, through his initiation into an elite guild, his arduous training, and his call to adventure. Priest's is a highly individual voice, and he resists pigeonholing. Reading `Inverted World; is a very strange, but very rewarding, experience.
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on 10 July 2010
I'll start off by admitting that I don't actually own, or have ever read, THIS book!

HOWEVER......I say 'THIS book' as this is the first time I've seen the actual FULL and UNABRIDGED version of this fantastic (in both senses of the word) story.
I have the original 1974 edition of ' New writings in S.F.22' (edited by Kennneth Bulmer; Corgi Books No.0 552 09492 7)and in it is this story,(albeit only 39.5 pages long of it)!
The story has been one of my all-time favourites and I have returned to read it again and again over the years, as the imagination of the author, and the situation of the characters (not to mention the world they live on) has enthralled me time and again.
Despite knowing the beginning, the middle and the end of the story, I'm definitely going to be getting this to 'fill-in the missing bits', so to speak.
After all, I've waited 36 long years to see anywhere it in it's entirety!
If it's anything near as good as the abridged version, then I'm sure I won't be disappointed!
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on 18 September 2015
It's not often I am incredibly frustrated by a book, but this is one such occasion. I really wanted to like this story, as I am a massive sci-if fan and have read through most of the other books in the SF Masterworks collection. It started well, if not a bit clunky, then went gradually downhill. The characters made decisions which I can't fathom, the descriptions were hard to visualise (for me anyway), and there was a distinct whiff of misogyny permeating the whole text.

To be honest, I could go on and on, but suffice to say I wanted to vent somewhat. It's overly long, and the ending.. The ending is probably one of the few times I wanted to open a window and drop the book outside. So if I were you I'd avoid this, and it's a shame, it could've been a great book.
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on 2 February 2014
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 ensure survival on this intriguing 'inverted' world. A world where the effects of gravity, space and time are not constant. But all is most definitely not what it seems. Without giving more away, I will just say I found it engaging, it kept me thinking and I was surprised at the ending when all is revealed.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 28 August 2011
Priest may be better known as the writer of the book The Prestige, later filmed by Christopher Nolan with the same title. If that's not recommendation enough for people of discrimination to immediately go out and buy all his novels, I don't know what is. His writing here is not in the same vein, it is science fiction, or as many prefer to call it, speculative fiction. It is set, I would estimate, a few years after what might well come to be known as The Crash - it has already started. Bankrupt governments are living on promises - but, we may not be on Plant Earth (or Earth Planet - it is inverted, after all). This is a novel about perception. If this is Earth, and if these people are humans, they have been through something so profoundly traumatic that it has changed the way they view the world.

We begin with the Guilds, which control the city. Our protagonist, Helward Mann, is one of the elite, a young man with automatic status because of his birth. He chooses to enter the Guild of Future Surveyors. First he has to spend time as an apprentice with each of the other Guilds, and we come to learn exactly what is going on through Helward. In time we learn of the difficulties of survival and we are left in no doubt that there is something strange about how Helward views his world. Finally we receive another perception and the truth is revealed. This is a brilliantly original and unsettling novel. The prose is a little stiff, a little too formal, though that works well in the parameters of this story, given the shock of the plot. It made me think about how some of our own beliefs about the world are often based on heresay or unfiltered perceptive effects. What else might be the result of faulty perceptions? Thought about seriously, deeply, sure enough, the ground could disappear beneath our feet. I enjoyed this book enormously and I will be reading more of Priest's work.
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VINE VOICEon 13 June 2012
This is one of the rare SF novels that at its conclusion makes the reader stop, review the story and scenario presented and ponder whether something of the sort could indeed happen in the right circumstances.
The basic story is of a self-contained city being dragged across a landscape on rails laid before the advancing city and taken up behind, in order to keep pace with the 'optimum'. The story gradually reveals more about life and organisation in the city and its reason for being. The pace of the story is good and interest is created throughout as the reader tries to understand the nature of the world presented. The big 'reveal' at the end has some aspects of surprise and predictability, but the latter doesn't diminish the story. It's difficult to elaborate without a spoiler - so I'll desist.
The novel cleverly explores perspective, cultural development and how these belief systems and environmental factors affect our view of the world.
A well written, well balanced novel that makes the reader think 'What if?'.
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on 15 November 2010
An entire city, its inhabitants closed off from the outside world by high walls and a code of secrecy, is steadily made to traverse a treacherous landscape. It has to keep moving. The truth about its perilous condition is known only to an elite group of guild members who, down the generations, have been responsible for keeping the city on the move, allowing the citizens to live in benign ignorance. With that enticing picture, we follow the life of a young man, newly initiated into the guild system, as he gradually learns the reality of the city's situation. Then things start to change. The idea of the city being dragged along was enough to lure me into buying this book. The images conjured up by it stayed with me long after finishing it. A unique, imaginative tale.
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on 14 April 2013
I read this book some years ago, and decided to put it on my Kindle to re-read it. It was just as brilliant, if not better than before. Christopher Priest writes SF of the most amazing originality, combining action with great philosophical ideas to stunning effect. The desperate trouble (which becomes unfixable) that our protagonist finds himself facing makes you think about our universe, our way of looking at ourselves, and what the inside and outside of heads give us. I won't say any more - just read it - and then go on to Priest's other books. The film "The Prestige" was based on another of his books.
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