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Monday, February 26, 2024

The Inverted WorldThe Inverted World by Christopher Priest
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Re-Read 2/26/24:

Oh, Portugal.

Ahem, I mean, this really is a rather unique novel. I re-read it mainly because I wanted to give tribute to Christopher Priest, who died very recently. What a writer!

In this particular book, I am fascinated to see just how many odd perceptual plays mixed with outright different PHYSICS alterations to reality come together to create a uniquely human attempt to make sense of one's world. This is as true in this one as in the majority of all his other, equally wonderful novels.

They're almost all of them grounded so very well, curious, familiar, and intensely OFF in ways that would normally make most of us scream and run for the hills, but his characters are so -- used to.

It's truly wonderful and odd.

I have a theory about this one. Even though this was a novel from 1974, it's almost like we jumped ahead to ST:TNG warp bubble physics, but without spaceships, it's focused on the ground with a manually moving city that requires constantly laid tracks.

Does that sound odd? It should. And it actually seems to make all the sense in the world... once you get there.

Original Review:

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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