"The Adjacent" by Christopher Priest

The Adjacent - Christopher Priest


                        (Spitfire Mark XI, one of the main "characters" in the book)


It does not look like it, but for me this is a love story at heart...


As usual in a novel by Priest, I had to keep my wits about me. (In)Sanity is the word of the day. The 400 pages of “The Adjacent” are dense with encrypted epiphanies, not all of them perceived at a first reading. So I advise you all to re-read it. You’ll get something more out of it on a second reading.


For me any book by Christopher Priest can be used as a good example for the difference between SF and Fantasy. Science Fiction at the end of the day is about human engagement, ie, actions that lead to reactions and the fiction itself describes, discusses and judges those reactions. Those actions can be immersed in reality or they can be interrogative in nature. In consequence we can refer to it as being a kind of moral fiction and, of course, the best works in Science Fiction can be considered literature (e.g., “The Dispossessed” by Ursula K .Le Guin, “The Stars My Destination” by Alfred Bester”, “The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch” by Philip K. Dick, to name just a few). Fantasy on the other hand is quite the opposite: it’s usually about The Irrational and sometimes about events out of control. As soon as fantasy attempts to tackle and deal with reality it stops being fantasy. That’s one of the reasons why I usually prefer SF over Fantasy (there are of course exceptions that confirm the rule).

Narrately speaking we have Priest in the best of form: unsentimental and in purposeful-prose-mode and in full command of language. The enchantment in Priest's prose lies in its cumulative increase of meaning, especially when the meaning of the implications and ramifications is not known, as it happens in all of Priest’s books. How many books could I read to the very end where I don't have the slightest idea what's actually going on? Not many I can assure you. For me, besides the need we all have to understand what’s going on, ie, grasping the inner workings of a novel, what’s more important and it’s quite paramount to everything I read (or I want to read), is the capability a novel has to make me enjoy reading it, as it’s the case here.

That’s the beauty of a Priest novel. Never fully understanding where I am, never fully knowing where I’m headed. Enjoyment by being trapped by sheer curiosity…

If I could I’d give this book 6 stars.

I’m saving “The Islanders” for next year. I don’t know when we’ll have another Priest out there…