The Sepa­ra­tion

2002, Scrib­n­ers

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

A novel that took the Clarke Award against stiff com­pe­ti­tion, The Sepa­ra­tion is an al­ter­nate his­tory tale of twin broth­ers in WWII. one brother is a pi­lot, the other a con­sci­en­tious ob­jec­tor.

It had a trou­bled route to­wards pub­li­ca­tion be­cause “a young edi­tor” about whom Priest is less than po­lite wanted to make the book into a “coun­ter­fac­tual” akin to robert har­ris’s Father­land (1992). This en­tirely missed the point be­cause Priest was more interested in why things turn out how they do than in why they might have turned out dif­fer­ently.

“I wanted to write about the process of his­tory, the un­fold­ing of events, my belief that there’s a kind of mo­men­tum and in­evitabil­ity to events,” he says. “The robert har­ris coun­ter­fac­tual ap­proach as­sumes the sim­plis­tic idea that hitler ‘won’ the war. To me that’s ridicu­lous and un­ten­able: Nazi ger­many was vile and sus­tained by vi­o­lence, but it was also cor­rupt and di­rected by a dem­a­gogue, hence fun­da­men­tally un­sta­ble and weak. If the Al­lies had not ‘won’ the war, Nazi ger­many would have col­lapsed any­way.”

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