The Grad­ual

2016, Gol­lancz

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Christopher Priest -

Priest’s lat­est novel tells of a com­poser’s trav­els. It’s his third novel inside a lit­tle more than half a decade fol­low­ing a long break af­ter The Sepa­ra­tion. The gap was down to a com­bi­na­tion of his chil­dren be­ing of school age, “the de­mor­al­is­ing af­ter-ef­fects of ed­i­to­rial in­ter­ven­tion on The Sepa­ra­tion” and the dis­trac­tion of The Pres­tige be­ing filmed. The Grad­ual, The Is­lan­ders (2011) and, to a lesser ex­tent, The Ad­ja­cent (2013) see him once again ex­plor­ing the Dream Archipelago.

“I don’t make de­ci­sions about these things: they come upon me,” he says. “I went sev­eral years with­out writ­ing about the Archipelago, but then one day I started think­ing about it again and it gained a grip on me. At its most ba­sic level, the world of is­lands is a sort of blank can­vas, where back­ground out­lines have al­ready been shaded in, leav­ing the fore­ground for sto­ries. I have sev­eral Archipelago sto­ries still in mind, but I think I will leave it for now.

“The state of liv­ing on an is­land runs deep through most peo­ple in this coun­try, me no less than any­one else. I of­ten fall asleep to the sound of the BBC ship­ping bul­letin, a sooth­ing rhythm of storms and lulls, great winds and foggy banks, a sense of a mar­itime world go­ing on just a short dis­tance away. I dream of a world where there is noth­ing but is­lands, coasts, shal­low straits, fer­ries to and fro.”

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