Monday, 15 August 2011

Quoth the Scotsman | Christopher Priest on Perception

A couple of caveats to bear in mind before we start. Unless otherwise indicated, none of the quotes quoted in the following article are representative of the beliefs of the person in question quoted nor those the person quoting the person in question. Additionally, any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental... or so I'm saying.

In short, Quoth the Scotsman is just a space here on TSS for me to post neat quotes as and when I come across them. Simple. As. That.


Here before me I have a copy of one of my single-most anticipated novels of 2011: The Islanders by the great and terrible Christopher Priest. 

It's a good feeling!

And by gum, it's a good book, too. But then, you hardly need me to tell you that. Christopher Priest has been astonishing readers in genre and the mainstream for almost forty years now; he's that rare species of author literary critics whip out the big words for, and with every reason.

Anyway, I know I'm very far from alone in my undying appreciation of Christopher Priest, so to tide you over till I've crossed all the eyes and dotted all the tees in my review of The Islanders, I thought I'd share a choice quote from the chapter (though it is not, strictly speak, a chapter at all) accounting for the isle of REEVER, or HISSING WATERS, as per the local patois.

In the following excerpt the gazetteer describes the vortical distortions, or temporal gradients, which make mapping the vast Dream Archipelago such an absolute nightmare:

"If you fly in one direction, looking down at the ground - say from north to south - a certain island will look a certain way: mountains here, a river there, a town, a bay, a forest, and so on. However, if you fly over it a second time - east to west - the same island will look oddly different: the river doesn't reach the sea in quite the same part of the coast, the forest looks darked or larger, the mountains now have fewer peaks, the coast seems less jagged, or more. Has it actually changed? Or was your observation inaccurate the first time? You go round for a third look - north to south again - and the island has seemed to change its layout yet again, and is different in a new way.

"Worse, if you set off across the sea to an adjacent island, then try to return home, the island you left will now seem to be in another place or direction entirely. Sometimes it will have vanished altogether, or that is how it appears." (p.284)

In the UK, Gollancz will be publishing The Islanders in late September; mark your calendars accordingly. There's no date that I can see for a US release, alas, but worst case scenario, I'm sure The Book Depository will have your back.

Meantime, expect a full write-up of The Islanders here on The Speculative Scotsman, or on one of the other genre review resources I haunt... very probably before then.

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