Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Inverted World : Christopher Priest

The Inverted World
By Christopher Priest

I liked this enough that I'll probably pick up more of Christopher Priest's works.

Helward Mann was born into a city that is governed by a guild whose purposes and actions are secret.  Helward joins the guild and along with the reader, slowly learns the the whats and the whys.

The good:

  • The question of whether the actions of the guild should remain secret is well-written and certainly remains quite relevant today with government actions.
  • Science and mathematics have a way of getting into mind-bending areas, challenging common sense and intuition.  Priest touches upon one of these areas - I mean, what other sci-fi book  depends on hyperbolas and mathematics for its explanation of oddness.
  • The slow reveal of information is very realistic in how people become very adamant about their beliefs.
  • Switches between 1st-person/3rd-person.  Not sure whether I should put this in the Good or a nit-pick.  The parts alternate between written in 1st person and 3rd-person  (Part 1 in 1st person, Part 2 was in 3rd person, Part 3 in 1st, etc). I understand the switch for Part 4, where it focuses on a different character, hence the need to switch to 3rd person, but Part 2, it was a little jarring and since we were still following Helward, struck me as a bit strange.
Nit-picks
  • Part 1, where Helward joins the guild and partakes in his first mission (winching) was overly long.  I'm not sure if Priest was trying to really put the reader into Helward's shoes, where he gets lost into the minutia of his new job, but midway through the first part, I had questions that don't get addressed until well into Part 2.
  • The ending was a bit of a letdown.  With a flick of a switch, everything is back to the normal perspective.  

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