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The Inverted World (Literature) - TV Tropes

Christopher Priest the author came to prominence through the British Inverted World, and then manifesting his preoccupations with what is real and . fiction, fiction that explores our fraught relationship with the 'real' world. This is my summary of Inverted World by Christopher Priest. . He uses this time to establish a relationship with his intended wife, Victoria. By the end of Part One of the book, Helward has completed his training with the. MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT The Inverted World This post is going to discuss the book The Inverted World by Christopher Priest. It's a sci-fi.

Christopher Priest has to contrive a reason why the hero should reach his 18th or whatever birthday without having learnt anything about the world in which he lives. The first half of the novel is essentially an extended description of how a massive city can be moved in the first place. Interspersed between these long descriptions of engineering are chapters with a tighter, more human focus: When the inhabitants discover that their leaders have been withholding the truth, they inevitably become restive, demanding that the city stop moving, that they stop exploiting the local tribes people, and that the population settles in a permanent site: This is exacerbated by the arrival of some outsiders who see the world very, very differently.

Cue lots of dispute, civil unrest and threats of sabotage. The moving city is a definite metaphor for late-stage capitalism: Likewise the plundering of the land and exploitation of the surrounding tribes definitely rings of the colonial. But what of that crushing gravity field that pursues the city? Well, this too becomes a metaphor of sorts; not for any existential or physical threat, but for the realpolitik of capitalist narrative.

Three of the stays were completed and the cables were connected. One more stay was in the process of completion, and the fifth was being erected now. The tracks it has rolled over must be dug up and moved to the front again; the winch must be moved too. The goal is to reach something called the "optimum," a location always ahead of the city, a moving finish line that the city in fact never reaches but continues to pursue.

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The slowness of it all, the mind-boggling tedium, would be unbearable if it weren't for that crushing gravitational field behind and the optimum ahead. This is what gives the city its meaning -- a situation that, later, will explain much of what is going on. Helward marries Victoria, whose father is an engineer, and their arranged marriage creates vibrancy and meaning in that otherwise surreal environment.

So young and inexperienced, they stumble into lovemaking and into an understanding of the trust that must grow between two people. Victoria is eager to know what is going on outside the city; Helward has sworn an oath, punishable by death, if he should reveal anything of the field, a secret known only to those in the guilds.

But the two realize that, if it's not exactly love they feel, they care deeply for each other, and he shares some of the city's operation with her, leading her to this subversive response: It seems to me that the system works by suppression of knowledge. I don't see what that achieves. It has made me very discontented, and I'm sure I'm not alone.

In his afterword, John Clute points out that the book's appearance induring a decade of revolt and defiance against society's status quo, suggested to some early readers that the British author's story presented "yet another vision of a Britain deep in the doldrums.

And yet, nothing prepares him for what he sees when he goes "down past": All apprentices are required to travel south of the city to see the threat for themselves. In addition to this, Helward is returning three young women to their town; they were "borrowed" -- in exchange for medicines, foods, agricultural products -- for breeding. The traveling city's female population is declining, and for unclear reasons outsiders seem better able to produce female infants.

As Helward and the women travel farther, the flatter everything becomes -- including the women: She was now a little more than twelve inches high, and her body -- as the other girls' -- was nearly five feet broad.

  • Christopher Priest's 'Inverted World' imagines a city that crawls
  • The Inverted World

It was impossible to recognize them as having once been human, even though he knew this to be so. When he looks up, he sees a distorted landscape: But at the centre, due north of him, the ground rose from that flatness in a perfectly symmetrical, rising and curving concave spire.

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It narrowed and narrowed, reaching up, growing ever more slender, rising so high that it was impossible to see where it ended. He also finds that the journey affects his experience of time: Though he believes he was gone for a matter of days, Victoria waited a long time, suffered the death of their infant son and, giving up hope that she would see him again, remarried. What is going on? Is this city on the Earth or not? The story that kept coming to mind as I read "Inverted World" was Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery," which describes another community going through the motions of a violent ritual long after the reasons for it have been forgotten.

It is also true of the city of Earth: