The Inverted World

Christopher Priest
The Inverted World Cover

The Inverted World -- Mind Bending

Tar Daddoo

What is the Science Fiction Premise?

The Inverted World offers a planet where space is distorted depending on where one is located on the planet. Unfortunately, the point of no distortion is traveling across the countryside. We follow the inhabitants of a city on wheels that struggles endlessly to keep itself at the no distortion point.

Is the science of the premise explored?

The science behind the spatial distortion is only vaguely understood by the inhabitants of the city. It is the great mystery underlying their lives. Since we are following a boy as he grows into a contributing adult of the community, our appreciation of the spatial distortion grows as he becomes initiated into the ways and beliefs of the inhabitants of the city. For all this, there is always a sense that the inhabitants may not fully understand what is happening.

Is the impact of the premise on an individual explored?

The main character's life, like everyone else's in the city, is centered on the need to keep the city moving. Moving a city on wheels is a great challenge and requires many people fulfilling many different roles. He experiences many of those roles and grows to understand why they must keep moving and what it takes to make that happen.

Is the impact of the premise on society explored?

The Inverted World paints a rather full picture of the city and its interactions with the natives who live in the lands it moves through. As for the city, life is highly structured, since all effort must be turned to the great task. There are scouts, guards, engineers, track layers (the city is on tracks), and so on. As for the natives, they are generally quite poor and anxious to enjoy some of the good things that the city has to offer. This makes for an asymmetric relationship and often tense interactions.

How well written is the story?

The story is quite well written. It fosters a rather unsettling feeling as we become familiar with the people of the city, but see no way out of their peculiar predicament.

Can I recommend the book?

The Inverted World is quite good. The story explores its Science Fiction premise thoroughly. It is not a grand adventure, but it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. I am happy to recommend it.

Tar Daddoo