Inverted World by Christopher Priest – review

For about 250 pages, I was entirely “in” this world created by Chris Priest. It is a world that is misshaped by…something.  Their world is shaped like a spinning top, wide in the middle, points on either end, and their city must move constantly to avoid being sucked to the edge of their world and destroyed. For whatever reasons, the world around them doesn’t seem to notice these effects, and we gradually learn that the leaders of the city believe that they are the survivors from the world of Earth and they are waiting for their rescue.

Then Priest sort of jerks the rug out from under it.

And I lost interest almost entirely.

On the one hand, the course of the novel seems somewhat convenient.  A reveal was required to happen at some point, something to bring the story to some sort of resolution. The problem I have is that the resolution presented just sort of made the entire rest of the novel pointless, and it doesn’t really reveal how members of the city are able to blind themselves to reality so effectively and so totally, even when they don’t have a point of reference to do this blinding. It is as if the city suffers from a mass hallucination that stretches out to become their lives, and one of the conflicts of the novel is a group of residents of the city who don’t entirely buy into the reality within which the city believes it exists.

Trying to think of something to compare Inverted World to, I’m drawing a bit of a blank. In a way, it reminds me of a generic Kafka tale, but instead of the absurdity and labyrinthine horrors being clear, they are portrayed as normal, sane reality. Which doesn’t hurt the novel at all for the first 250 pages. Really, it’s just a good, though a bit thin character wise, SF/F novel. It posits an interesting world that ultimately comes to a less interesting conclusion, though likely out of a bit of necessity to end the thing.

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