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The Adjacent [Kindle Edition]

Christopher Priest
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The eagerly anticipated new novel from “one of the master illusionists of our time.” (Wired)

In the near future, Tibor Tarent, a freelance photographer, is recalled from Anatolia to Britain when his wife, an aid worker, is killed—annihilated by a terrifying weapon that reduces its target to a triangular patch of scorched earth. 

A century earlier, Tommy Trent, a stage magician, is sent to the Western Front on a secret mission to render British reconnaissance aircraft invisible to the enemy.

Present day. A theoretical physicist develops a new method of diverting matter, a discovery with devastating consequences that will resonate through time.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Like some sort of self-assembling jigsaw puzzle, Priest’s new novel starts out as a handful of stories that appear unconnected either by character or by chronology. But, as we follow the stories, we eventually realize that these characters, despite being separated by time, are linked via a Nobel-winning theoretical physicist and his discovery, the Perturbative Adjacent Field. Priest, a master of deception and misdirection (The Separation, 2005), is being especially mysterious here, leaving us to work out even such basic things as whether the book is set in this reality or an alternate version (the photographer’s story seems set in a world in which Britain is an Islamic state, but, on the other hand, the story about a stage magician tasked by the British military to make airplanes appear invisible to ground-based observers seems pretty clearly set during the historical WWII). We frequently get the sense that, like a stage magician, Priest is deliberately focusing our attention on one thing, while he’s doing something else, something subtle, between the lines. While it’s definitely not a book for people who prefer their fiction to be linear, The Adjacent is a wonderful piece of fiction, an intricate puzzle that asks the reader to pay close attention and to read not just the text, but also the subtext and its implications. --David Pitt


The Adjacent is puzzling, brilliant, frustrating, page-turning, disturbing and absorbing. WERTZONE A beautifully written novel. SCI FI NOW Thoroughly engrossing, and throughout Priest's scene-setting is impeccable. His descriptions of the workings of Bomber Command in the WWII section are worthy of Len Deighton. In the futuristic strand, he uses his flat, clinical prose to good effect to create a mood of oppressive menace. STARBURST MAGAZINE

Product Details

  • File Size: 1323 KB
  • Print Length: 429 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0575105364
  • Publisher: Titan Books (April 8, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #334,229 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unsettling, intelligent, unnerving, brilliant June 22, 2013
A century or more in the future, Melanie Tarent is killed in a terrorist attack in Turkey by a frightening new weapon. The only trace the weapon leaves behind is a triangular scorch mark on the ground. Her husband, Tibor, returns home to Britain and learns that the same weapon has been deployed on a larger scale in London, leaving a hundred thousand people dead. There appears to be a connection to something in Tibor's past, something he has no memory of.

The events in Tibor's life have ramifications across the years. During WWI a stage magician is sent to the Western Front to help make British reconnaissance aircraft invisible to the enemy and has a chance meeting with one of the most famous writers alive. During WWII a young RAF technician meets a female Polish pilot and learns of her desperate desire to return home and be reunited with her missing lover. And in the English countryside of the near future, a scientist creates the first adjacency, and transforms the world.

Reviewing a Christopher Priest novel is like trying to take a photograph of a car speeding past you at 100mph without any warning. You are, at the very best, only going to capture an indistinct and vague image of what the object is. Photography, perspective and points of view play a major role in Priest's latest novel, as do some of his more familiar subjects: stage magic, WWII aircraft and the bizarre world of the Dream Archipelago. The Adjacent is a mix of the familiar and the strange, the real and the unreal, the lucid and the dreamlike. It's the novel as a puzzle, as so many of Priest's books are, except that Priest hasn't necessarily given you all the pieces to the same puzzle.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Different Sort of Love Story March 18, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
The Adjacent is my first taste of Priest’s work. I know, I know how could I call myself a serious genre reader and yet never cracked the pages of a Priest novel? I’ve always been aware of him as an author – when I was in my teens I knew that Priest had written two Doctor Who scripts for the 4th Doctor that were never made, and, of course, I’ve seen Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige – but I’ve never felt compelled to read his work. His novels, nearly a complete collection, sit on my shelves in the garage collecting dust. (Priest is not alone. My garage has become a Sargasso Sea of novels and novelists whose books I own but whose work I’ve never read).

When The Adjacent was announced I decided to rectify that state affairs… and then nearly didn’t when I read the closing paragraph to Niall Alexander’s positive review of the book on Strange Horizons:

"Reading The Adjacent is like taking a grand tour of the larger canon Christopher Priest has established over the course of his forty-year career, so no, newcomers need not apply, but old hands are apt to find it massively satisfying."

Newcomers need not apply…

Now that I’ve finished the novel I can appreciate where Niall is coming from. Even with my limited knowledge of Priest’s oeuvre, there’s a feeling that this book is a continuation of a bar conversation that Priest has begun elsewhere. Not in specific plot details, but in the recycling of elements that Priest has always been fascinated with – magicians, aeroplanes, H.G Wells, and archipelagos that exist somewhere to the left of our reality.

I’m sure if you’re aware of all the bits and pieces that reflect and echo previous novels you’ll have more fun with The Adjacent. That’s certainly the impression I get from Niall’s review.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I am not a fan May 14, 2014
The basic plot, obscure though it is, has been covered in detail by other reviewers and won't be repeated here.

I give author Christopher Priest two stars for his creativity in trying to weave a tale concerning a quantum universe where time and place may be parallel or time shifted among real and unreal worlds. His placement of one storyline into the Islamic Republic of Great Britain was clever.

Some other reviewers have described his writing and attention to detail as brilliant, but I found it tedious. While we are treated to detailed descriptions of some aspects of war and airplanes, his characters are poorly fleshed out and seem almost cardboard. I understand the alliteration of names and similarity of occupations to nudge us to understand the connectedness of the parallel characters. The female characters, especially in expressing their sexual needs, are almost utilitarian. Some chapters of the story are overly long without apparent purpose except to fill out the book, as much of the material in them doesn't really add to the storyline. The ending is abrupt and unsatisfying, although predictable.

I've been reading science fiction/fantasy for decades and always enjoy original thought, layered plot construction, and character development. I just found The Adjacent to have an interesting premise that was not well developed or written.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Explores the nature of reality September 22, 2014
Call it cosmic roulette, if you will. In many ways that is what the multiverse theory seems to embody. There are infinite possibilities and variations on every choice we make, every outcome random.

Christopher Priest zeroes in on that idea in The Adjacent through the eyes of a central cast of characters in three different storylines. One story is set in a dystopian future where climate change has left the world dealing with deadlands and superstorms on a regular basis; another story is set in WWI, and the other is set in WWII. Each storyline has a central character with similar names: Trent, Tarent, and Torrance. Are these men the same person? Probably. It isn't really explained. But there is slow, IV drip of clues and hints that leaves you feeling strangely unsettled. "Where have I seen this person before?" I kept asking. The Adjacent is a thrilling, maddening read.

What ties the three storylines together is the motif of the triangle. What a symbol! Think of the triangle's form and you have the central structure of the book. The three storylines; the three sides of the geometric form that never meet except at their 'adjacencies.' The book will leave your mind reeling as you try to make sense of the three stories.

The most compelling storyline for me is the one that takes place in the near future. There is a terrorist group on the loose that uses a weapon, an IED, of spectacular destruction. It leaves behind a mark, a triangle. This motif gets echoed throughout the book.

Back in another storyline, we meet the scientist who supposedly came up with the quantum theory that eventually led to the technology that made the bomb possible. It was never meant to be a bomb, but a defensive shield of some kind. (Boy, did they not expect that blowback.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Good first half, complete mess by the end
This was probably at least a three-star by about mid-way into the book. Given the premise from the inside cover, a few different stories in different times, a weapon and a war in... Read more
Published 10 hours ago by Edgar
1.0 out of 5 stars Skip It
Skip it, unless you really WANT to waste your time.
Published 1 month ago by OverTheHill
2.0 out of 5 stars Like air being let out of a tire...
I know I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but I swear I have a gift for finding brilliantly written novels that are simply pointless. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mike Willis
3.0 out of 5 stars I loved the writing style
I loved the writing style, specific and detailed without being long-winded. The mulit-layered plot was intriguing. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Simon Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars the transcending love story, the perfect prose
The dream feeling of this book, the enigmatic characters which are in turn photographers, airplane pilots, illusionists or nurses, the illuminating connections with other novels by... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Tudor Ciocarlie
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Christopher Priest -- Highly Recommended
I may be biased in that I automatically pre-order any of Chris's forthcoming books by rule. He's that good and his stories are that interesting (cf. M. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Don Tyler
5.0 out of 5 stars Tough but rewarding reading
This novel requires some deep introspection, but it's time well spent. If you're willing to work a little, you'll appreciate the ambition inherent to the plot.
Published 12 months ago by trevornewland
3.0 out of 5 stars An Oddly Compelling, Yet Unsatisfying Love Story
If you're like me and like your narratives to be mostly resolved by the end of the movie/book/story, then you might want to skip this otherwise excellent and intriguing book. Read more
Published 12 months ago by A. Ross
2.0 out of 5 stars Well written but plotless
This book was very well written with vivid descriptions of places and events that I never cared about. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Adam Nordost
2.0 out of 5 stars poor characters
I agree with some of what the other reviewers conclude here. But truly, this book reveals so little of the convoluted plot gaps by the last page, that I wish i hadn't started it. Read more
Published 12 months ago by beluga
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