Christopher Priest (book)

“I can tell you exactly where I got the last idea, and the one before that, and so on. But I haven’t the faintest idea where the next one will come from.

The idea for The Prestige came from an anecdote I heard about the Chinese magician, Ching Ling Foo. (The anecdote is in the book, and is also reproduced somewhat in the movie. Hugh Jackman makes a heroic effort in this regard.)

The idea for The Extremes arose from the happenstance of my being in Hungerford on the same day and at the exact same time as the massacre was going on.

The idea for The Separation arose from a mystery I encountered when I was a child: why was it that after Rudolf Hess flew to Britain with a plan for peace nothing more was heard of him until he emerged more than four years later at the Nuremburg [sic] war crimes trial?

I can rattle off similar answers for all my books, but cannot answer for the one I’m writing at the moment, or for any other book in the future. I need an “idea” to get me writing so it’s important to me, and although it’s an unfashionable sentiment in the salons of the English literary establishment, I believe in the novel of ideas as a source of much of the best writing in the last fifty years of so. So I seek ideas without knowing exactly where to look. I just stay receptive: I listen to people talking, watch stuff on TV, read reports in newspapers, and so on. Almost all of it is in the end waster, or (worse) sends me of [sic] on a wild goose chase. But every once in a while, something puts a piece of grit into my oyster shell.”

– Christopher Priest
(from an e-mail)

Although his work is generally classified as science fiction, Christopher Priest tend to approach his stories without thinking of it as science fiction. It is a practice that had served him well.

To date, his novels have won him three British Science Fiction Association awards; the Arthur C. Clarke Award; the World Fantasy Award and the James Tate Black Memorial Prize for Fiction.

The Inverted World, published in the 1970s, is considered by many to be Priest’s seminal work. Other than its pure sci-fi nature, the novel’s structure is also one of Priest’s many hallmarks.

His 1995 novel, The Prestige, about two dueling magicians, was made into a movie directed Christopher Nolan. The Prestige DVD is out now.


~ by croatoa on February 16, 2007.

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