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Obituary: Christopher Priest, Acclaimed Science Fiction Author and Creator of “The Prestige” Adapted into a Feature Film

ByEditor

Feb 12, 2024

Christopher Priest, who passed away at the age of 80, was a prominent science fiction and fantasy author in Britain. However, he insisted that this description did not capture the full range and originality of his work. His early novels, such as The Space Machine (1976) and Inverted World (1974), became classics of science fiction and showed his ability to write exuberant pastiches and create new worlds. Later in his career, Priest’s books and short stories, often set in a chain of equatorial islands known as the Dream Archipelago, defied categorization and puzzled many science fiction enthusiasts.

Priest himself acknowledged the challenges of being associated with science fiction, stating in 1990 that he came into serious writing from the wrong direction. He felt burdened by the preconceptions people had of the kind of stories he was now interested in writing. One of his most famous later works, The Prestige (1995), explored the rivalry between two stage magicians in Victorian England and their invention of a teleportation machine. The book was not only an ingenious tale but also a meticulously researched study of the art and history of stage magic. In 2006, it was adapted into a film by Christopher Nolan, further solidifying Priest’s literary reputation.

Despite being a genre writer, Priest was unique in the esteem he held within the literary establishment, and he received the James Tait Black Prize for his work.

By Editor

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