The Inverted World by Christopher Priest
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This novel is actually all kinds of amazing when it comes to the exploration of a few core ideas and more than very decent when it comes to exploring humanity, perception, and irreconcilable differences.
The story is ostensibly a coming of age story, an acceptance of one's world, and then, eventually a deep dissent without a true solution, but it comes across so easily, so effortlessly, that I'm truly unsurprised that this was nominated for the Hugo in '75 and won the British SF award in the same. So the characters are good, the story is very solid... then what, exactly, makes this novel stand out?
The concept. An intersection of our Earth with these people's Earth. Not original enough? No problem. How about an infinite space of earth along a fluid time? The city is on rails, a direct concept that is carried over to Railsea, travelling slowly into the future and away from the past, which doesn't sound so surprising except when you realize that if the inhabitants actually walk in one direction or another, they actually explore the real past or the future. Infinite space along a traversable time, the inverse of the Earth we actually live in.
But this is where the story gets interesting. There's guilds and explorers and the crossing over along very predefined instants where the two Earths meet, and then we start asking questions about perception.
It's truly much more than this, but it gives you a nice taste and it's truly a grand exploration of ideas across many points. :)
Truly a great recommendation for any SF lover. :)
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