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The Prestige ()

Granta Best British Novelists (1983)

Christopher Priest must be one of the most decorated but unread authors around.  In 1983 he was named one of the Best of Young British Novelists.  And The Prestige won both the World Fantasy Award and Britain's James Tait Black Memorial Prize.   Meanwhile, I'd never heard of him and when the book got some good reviews over here, it was a NY Times notable book, I couldn't find it anywhere.  Bur I'm glad I finally got ahold of a copy, because the novel lives up to the hype.

Priest tells the story of two turn of the century magicians, Rupert Angier and Alfred Borden, who are first rivals and then bitter enemies as what starts out as an attempt to learn each others secrets deteriorates into obsessive hatred and is even handed down to succeeding generations.  Eventually their efforts to top one anothers latest tricks draw Nikola Tesla into the picture.  Angier travels to Colorado to see if Tesla's experiments with electricity have any magical implications.  They do and the results are predictably, but delightfully, horrifying.

It's pretty hard to describe this novel without giving too much of the story away.  It's also a story that invites comparison; I saw reviewer references to The Alienist, Robertson Davies, John Fowles, H.G. Wells, etc.  Suffice it to say, the writing is terrific, the story is original but harkens back to classic themes and the tension he builds is palpable.  My only complaint is that it either ended abruptly or simply before I wanted it to; I'm not sure which.  Find it and read it.  You won't want it to end either.


Grade: (A)


Christopher Priest Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: Christopher Priest (novelist)
-ESSAY: Christopher Priest was a grievously underrated novelist: His career represented a sequence of missed opportunities for the world beyond his chosen genre to recognize his skill and quiet profundity (J.S. Barnes, May 15, 2024, Spectator)

Book-related and General Links:
    -Christopher Priest Web Site (bio, etc.)
    -Christopher Priest (Tangled Web)
    -Steampunk: Authors: Christopher Priest
    -INTERVIEW: A Quick Chat with Christopher Priest (Graham Dickson, Richmond Review)
    -INTERVIEW: Christopher Priest talks to David Langford
    -REVIEW: (Lisa DuMond, SF Site)
    -REVIEW: (Evelyn C. Leeper, New England Science Fiction Association)
    -REVIEW: (Dave Langford, The New York Review of SF)
    -REVIEW: (Hank Wagner, Horror Net)
    -REVIEW: of The Prestige (Dark Echo)
    -REVIEW: (Christina M. Schulman's Science Fiction Reviews)
    -World Fantasy Award Winners
    -REVIEW: of The Extremes (Richmond Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Extremes (Rich Horton, SF Site)
    -REVIEW: of The Extremes (Harriet Klausner, Under the Cover)
    -REVIEW: of The Extremes (Book Browser)
    -REVIEW: of The Dream Archipelago by Christopher Priest (Nick Gevers, infinity plus)