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Christopher Priest
Born July 14, 1943(1943-07-14)
Cheadle, United Kingdom
Occupation Writer
Nationality British
Ethnicity English
Period 1966 -
Genres Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction
Notable work(s) The Prestige
Notable award(s) See below
Spouse(s) Leigh Kennedy
Official website

Christopher Priest (born July 14, 1943 in Cheadle, near Stockport, Greater Manchester) is an English novelist, whose notable works include Fugue for a Darkening Island (US title Darkening Island), Inverted World, The Affirmation, The Glamour, The Prestige and The Separation.

In 1983, Priest was one of the twenty Granta Best of Young British Novelists. He is married to the writer Leigh Kennedy and lives in Hastings with their twin children. He was previously married to the writer Lisa Tuttle.

Many of his works could be classified as science fiction. Priest's work often features unreliable narrators, and thereby raises questions about narrative, truth, and the nature of memory and reality.

He has been strongly influenced by the SF pioneer, H. G. Wells, and in 2006 was appointed to the distinguished position of Vice-President of the international H. G. Wells Society.



One of his early novels, The Affirmation, concerns a traumatized man who apparently flips into a delusional world in which he experiences a lengthy voyage to an archipelago of exotic islands. This setting had previously featured in many of Priest's short stories, which raises the question of whether the Dream Archipelago is actually a fantasy. The state of mind depicted in this novel is remarkably similar to that of the delusional fantasy-prone psychoanalytic patient ("Kirk Allen") in Robert Lindner's The Fifty-Minute Hour or Jack London's tortured prisoner in The Star Rover.

Priest also dealt with delusional alternate realities in A Dream of Wessex in which a group of experimenters for a British government project are brain-wired to a hypnosis machine and jointly participate in an imaginary but as-real-as-real future in a vacation island off the coast of a Sovietized Britain.

Probably the best received of his pure SF work was Inverted World, a novel set on a bizarre planet that can be best described as an inside-out sphere, its equator and poles stretching out to infinity. The protagonist Helward Mann literally sees this for himself in a narrative spike in the middle of the book, after which the plot tails-off to a typically inconclusive conclusion. The novel's structure thereby mirrors the shape of the planet. This fine attention to structure is another of Priest's hallmarks, and can be seen in all his later novels but particularly The Prestige and The Separation.


Tie-in work

He wrote the tie-in novel to accompany the 1999 David Cronenberg movie eXistenZ, the theme of which has much in common with some of Priest's own novels, most notably A Dream of Wessex and The Extremes.

He was approached to write stories for the 18th and 19th seasons of Doctor Who. The first, "Sealed Orders," was a political thriller based on Gallifrey; it was eventually abandoned due to script problems and replaced with "Warriors' Gate." The second, "The Enemy Within," was eventually abandoned due to script problems and what Priest perceived as insulting treatment after he was asked to modify the script to include the death of Adric. It was replaced by "Earthshock." This falling out soured the production office on the use of established literary authors with no more being commissioned as a result.

A film of his novel The Prestige was released on October 20, 2006. It was directed by Christopher Nolan and starred Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman. Despite differences between the novel and screenplay, Nolan was reportedly[citation needed] so concerned the denouement be kept a surprise that he blocked plans for a lucrative US tie-in edition of the book.

Work under pseudonyms

  • Priest uses the pseudonyms John Luther Novak and Colin Wedgelock, usually for his movie novelizations. As well as the eXistenZ novelization (which undermined the pseudonym by including Priest's biography on the pre-title page), he has also novelised the movies Mona Lisa (as John Luther Novak) and Short Circuit (as Colin Wedgelock).
  • Priest has co-operated with fellow British science fiction author David Langford on various enterprises under the Ansible brand.
  • Comic book writer Jim Owsley changed his name to "Christopher Priest" in the mid-1990s. He has stated that he was completely unaware at the time that there was an established author of the same name.

Awards and honours

His novels have won the BSFA award (1974, for Inverted World[1]; 1998, for The Extremes[2]; 2002, for The Separation[3]), the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction (for The Prestige) and the World Fantasy Award (for The Prestige[4]).

He has also won the BSFA award for short fiction, and been nominated for Hugo Awards in the categories of Best Novel, Best Novella, Best Novelette, and Best Non-Fiction Book (this last for his The Book on the Edge of Forever (aka Last Deadloss Visions), an exploration of the famously-unpublished Last Dangerous Visions anthology). The Space Machine won the International SF prize in the 1977 Ditmar Awards [1]. Priest's 1979 essay "The Making of the Lesbian Horse" (published as a Novacon chapbook) takes a humorous look at the roots of his acclaimed novel Inverted World. He was guest of honour at both Novacon 9 in 1979 and Novacon 30 in 2000, and at the 63rd World Science Fiction Convention in 2005.

Between 7 November and 7 December 2007, the Chelsea College of Art and Design had an exhibition in its gallery Chelsea Space inspired by The Affirmation and its "themes of personal history and memory (which) through the lens of a more antagonistic and critical form of interpretation, aims to point towards an overtly positive viewpoint on contemporary art practice over any traditional melancholy fixation."



Short stories and other works

  • "The Run", (ss) SF Impulse, May 1966 [Volume 1 Number 3]
  • "Conjugation", (ss) New Worlds, #169 December 1966
  • "The Ersatz Wine", (ss) New Worlds, #171 March 1967
  • "The Match", (ss) Tit-Bits, 11 November 1967
  • "Occupation Force", (ss) Tit-Bits, 25 November 1967
  • "The Haul" [with Dick Howett], (ss) Tit-Bits, 31 August 1968
  • "The Interrogator", (nv) New Writings in SF 15, editor John Carnell, London: Dobson, 1969
  • "The Perihelion Man", (nv) New Writings in SF 16, editor John Carnell, London: Dobson, 1969
  • "Breeding Ground", (ss) Vision of Tomorrow, January 1970
  • "Double Consummation", (ss) The Disappearing Future, editor George Hay, Panther, 1970
  • "Fire Storm", (ss) Quark/#1, editor Samuel R. Delany & Marilyn Hacker, Paperback Library, 1970
  • "Nothing Like the Sun", (ss) Vision of Tomorrow #10, July 1970
  • "Real-Time World", (nv) New Writings in SF 19, editor John Carnel, London: Dobson, 1971
  • "Sentence in Binary Code", (ss) Fantastic, August 1971
  • "The Head and the Hand", (ss) New Worlds Quarterly 3, editor Michael Moorcock, London: Sphere, 1972
  • "The Inverted World", (nv) New Writings in SF 22, editor Kenneth Bulmer, London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1973
  • "Transplant", (ss) Worlds of If, January/February 1974
  • "A Woman Naked", (ss) Science Fiction Monthly, v1 #1 1974
  • "The Invisible Men", (ss) Stopwatch, editor George Hay, New English Library, 1974
  • Your Book of Film-Making, (n.f.) Faber and Faber, London 1974
  • "Men of Good Value", (ss) New Writings in SF 26, editor Kenneth Bulmer, London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1975
  • "The Cremation", (nv) Andromeda 3, editor Peter Weston, London: Futura, 1978
  • "The Negation", (nv) Anticipations, editor Christopher Priest, Scribner's, 1978
  • "The Watched", (na) The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, April 1978
  • "Whores", (ss) New Dimensions 8, editor Robert Silverberg, Harper & Row, 1978
  • "Palely Loitering", (nv) The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, January 1979
  • "The Agent" (with David Redd), (nv) Aries 1, editor John Grant, David & Charles, 1979
  • The Making of the Lesbian Horse (n.f.), Novacon 9 (for the Birmingham Science Fiction Group), 1979
  • "The Miraculous Cairn", (nv) New Terrors #2, editor Ramsey Campbell, London: Pan, 1980
  • "The Ament", (nv) Seven Deadly Sins: A Collection of New Fiction, editor anon., Severn House, London 1985
  • The Book on the Edge of Forever, (n.f.) Fantagraphics, Seattle, June 1993
  • "In a Flash" (from The Prestige), (ex) Interzone, #99 September 1995
  • "Impasse", (sss) SF Impulse, #12, February 1997
  • "I, Haruspex", (ss) The Third Alternative, #16 1998
  • "The Equatorial Moment", (ss) The Dream Archipelago, Earthlight, 1999
  • "The Cage of Chrome", (sss) Interzone, #156 June 2000
  • "The Discharge", (ss) Website 13 February 2002
  • "A Dying Fall", (ss) Asimov’s Science Fiction December 2006 [Volume 20 Number 12]
  • "The Trace of Him", (ss) Interzone February 2008 [Issue 214]
  • The Magic - the story of a film, (n.f.) GrimGrin Studio, Hastings, 2008


  1. ^ a b "1974 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-05-17. 
  2. ^ a b "1998 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-06-29. 
  3. ^ a b "2002 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-06-29. 
  4. ^ a b c "1996 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-05-17. 
  5. ^ "1975 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-06-29. 
  6. ^ "1981 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-06-29. 
  7. ^ "1984 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-06-29. 
  8. ^ "1995 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-06-29. 
  9. ^ "1999 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-06-29. 
  10. ^ "2003 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-06-29. 

External links


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