Fugue For A Darkening Island
1972, Faber & Faber
Priest’s second novel (Indoctrinaire preceded it in 1970) was, according to the writer’s own intro to a revised version in 2011, his “first attempt at a serious novel”. It’s a story of refugees fleeing an African war for europe and was reviewed as “catastrophe” SF in the tradition of John Wyndham or John Christopher.
But as Priest also points out, these were writers working in the 1950s, a decade that began with austerity Britain grappling with World War II’s aftermath and the loss of empire. In contrast, Fugue updates the catastrophe novel, reflecting the tensions of the early 1970s. This was an era of rising sectarian violence in Northern Ireland; and when members of the Indian diaspora in kenya and uganda fled to the uk because of the rise of authoritarian regimes.
“The refugee crisis is now worldwide, and seems likely to get unstoppably worse,” Priest says today. “There’s no pleasure, I’ve discovered, in thinking up a likely global disaster then seeing it come horribly true. Wait until global warming really kicks in. some 120 million people live in hot countries within walking distance of europe.”