September 10th, 2013

Inverted World (1974)

A self-sustianing city (named Earth) must moved constantly or else something bad happens

by Christopher Priest
More info @ Amazon

Warning! This review contains Spoliers

  • first, a proper synopsis since mine won't cut it this time

  • The city is winched along tracks through a devastated land full of hostile tribes. Rails must be freshly laid ahead of the city and carefully removed in its wake. Rivers and mountains present nearly insurmountable challenges to the ingenuity of the city’s engineers. But if the city does not move, it will fall farther and farther behind the “optimum” into the crushing gravitational field that has transformed life on Earth. The only alternative to progress is death.

  • The secret directorate that governs the city makes sure that its inhabitants know nothing of this. Raised in common in crèches, nurtured on synthetic food, prevented above all from venturing outside the closed circuit of the city, they are carefully sheltered from the dire necessities that have come to define human existence. And yet the city is in crisis. The people are growing restive, the population is dwindling, and the rulers know that, for all their efforts, slowly but surely the city is slipping ever farther behind the optimum.

    • I discovered this while voting for [The Verge Book Club December 2012 selection][1] which was almost a year ago. It lost in the polls, but I found the premise to be interesting even though these types of far out sci-fi/fantasy are not my thing. I added it to my reading list and now here I am, almost a year later.

    • I liked the pace of book, but I found the characters to be uninteresting. Further on in the book, the perspective changes to a female protagonist which I liked better. She seemed more interesting at that point. Unfortunalty, the perspective change only happens about 3/4ths of the way in.

    • when the cause of the perception distortion is explained, I found the explanation to be lackluster. I can suspend disbeleif up to a certain point. The holes in the physics explanation are so big that you can drive a city through them (pun intended)

    • the guild system and how the children get drafted into the system is interesting, but the overall narrative is boring

    • the way people who live in the city measure time by distance travelled was unique. I liked that

    • there is a subtle social narrative of how you shouldn't do this or that which I guess was supposed to make the reader question those feelings and reflect on them. Let's just say that didn't occur for me because I wasn't attached to the characters.

    • the book was just meh. Nothing special, not sure why this is considered a classic

in a nutshell

mildly interesting but was dissapointed

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