Fugue For A Darken­ing Is­land

1972, Faber & Faber

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

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.”

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