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The Adjacent Hardcover – April 8, 2014
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*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
"Taking place against a kaleidoscopic backdrop of Earth’s past, present, and future—not to mention dimensions somewhere in between—the novel is a wonderful, stand-alone statement about the resonance of history, memory, and love. But for attentive, longtime fans, there are Easter eggs that reference many of his past novels, including The Prestige, which only adds to the grand intricacy of Priest’s multifaceted vision." - AV Club Best Books of 2014
"Incredibly detailed and vivid." - Lit Stack
"Priest dabbles in a puzzling, intriguing work worthy of the sort of highbrow magic act it endeavors to perform." - Leviathyn
"A great read." - ScienceFiction.com
"When The Adjacent finally explodes into a head-spinning blast of blurred reality, Priest contains the fallout — then he orchestrates it all a stunning denouement, one that readers accustomed to his unforeseen-yet-inevitable twists might not even be prepared for...Priest hides the answers to his metaphysical mysteries just up his sleeve, waiting for the most jaw-dropping time to spring them." - NPR
"Christopher Priest is very talented when it comes to telling stories and “The Adjacent” is no exception." - Imp Mag
"A fascinating writer." - Big Shiny Robot
"Interesting fantasy." - City of Films
“Unraveling it all is completely fascinating.” – San Francisco Book Review
"Science and magic, as in many of Priest’s works, are combined and focused together into a strange amalgamation of cold emotion and fiery passion creating a hurricane of a book." - Geek Girl Project
"A gripping novel." - Project Fandom
"Featuring the twists, turns, and puzzles we’ve come to expect from Priest." - Barnes & Noble Book Blog
"A chiller...meant to disturb." - Wall Street Journal
"all visions, illusions, mystery"...."a chiller...meant to disturb" - Wall Street Journal
"Stunning." - Locus Magazine
"Priest knows exactly what he’s doing — and is doing it brilliantly" - Chicago Tribune
"A wonderful piece of fiction, an intricate puzzle that asks the reader to pay
close attention and to read not just the text, but the subtext and its implications" - Booklist
"An absorbing and complex yarn of altered realities and twisted timelines, where nothing is quite as it seems ..." The Guardian
"One of the best novels of the year" SFX Magazine
"The Adjacent is puzzling, brilliant, frustrating, page-turning, disturbing and absorbing." WERTZONE
"A beautifully written novel." SCIFINOW
"Intoxicatingly freewheeling." Metro
"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 ... creates a mood of oppressive menace." Starburst Magazine
Top customer reviews
We switch scenes and now find ourselves on the Western Front during World War One. Tommy Trent, a stage magician, is sent on a secret mission to render British reconnaissance aircraft invisible to the enemy. The mission is a spectacular flop but he does get the spend a day with HG Wells, the father of time travel, on the train to the front.
We go back to Tibor who has disembarked from his vehicle at a military base. Minutes later, it is obliterated by a mighty flash and vanishes, leaving only a blackened triangle of scorched earth. Flo and the other are dead. But are they?
Next. we learn that a theoretical physicist developed a "quantum weapon which can apparently take matter and make it disappear, sending it to a different, alternative, or adjacent world.
Next we're in World War II where an attractive Polish female flyer spends a day with an English mechanic and tells of her lost love in Poland. Then we go to an imaginary country where another magician makes an appearance. His big act is to make a woman disappear -- but it's just an illusion that goes horribly wrong.
This was a very complex book that in some ways reminded me of "Cloud Atlas" by David Mitchell. But it lacks the lovely construction of that masterpiece. As characters appear and disappear in different guises and contexts, I did become a bit confused. There are many balls sent flying in this conjuring trick and some get lost. If you need a book which ties up all the loose ends, this is not that book. In fact, loose ends are left all over the place.
The author seems to be positing a world of many different realities or separate paths -- roads taken and not taken. He also examines the connection and difference between reality and illusion, magic and science. It's a bravura performance and one does get invested in the fate of Tibor and some of the other characters -- without ever clearly understanding what happens to them. I was also a little bothered by the Muslim dystopia at the start which didn't advance the plot or have any particular relevance. Overall, a very absorbing book.