|Born||14 July 1943|
Cheadle, Cheshire, England
|Pen name||John Luther Novak, Colin Wedgelock|
|Period||1966 – present|
|Genre||Fantasy, horror, science fiction, slipstream|
|Notable awards||See below|
Christopher Priest (born 14 July 1943) is a British novelist and science fiction writer. His works include Fugue for a Darkening Island, The Inverted World, The Affirmation, The Glamour, The Prestige, and The Separation.
As a child, Priest spent some time holidaying in the English county of Dorset. Here he explored the ancient hillfort of Maiden Castle, near Dorchester, which he would later use as the location for the novel A Dream of Wessex.
Priest's first story, "The Run", was published in 1966. Formerly an accountant and audit clerk, he became a full-time writer in 1968. 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 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 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.
His most recent novels are The Islanders (2011), set in the Dream Archipelago, and The Adjacent (2013), a multi-strand narrative with recurring characters.
Of his narrative's plot twists, Priest told an interviewer in 1995, "my shocks are based on a sudden devastating reversal of what the reader knows or believes."
Priest wrote the tie-in novel to accompany the 1999 David Cronenberg movie eXistenZ, which contains themes of the novels A Dream of Wessex and The Extremes. Such themes include the question of the extent to which we can trust what we believe to be reality and our memories.
Priest 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 commissioned by script editor Douglas Adams; it was eventually abandoned due to script problems and replaced with "Warriors' Gate". The second, "The Enemy Within", was also 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". Priest received payment while Doctor Who producer John Nathan-Turner and script editor Eric Saward were forced to pen a letter of apology for the treatment of the writer. This falling-out soured the attitude of the production office to the use of established literary authors, and no more were commissioned until Neil Gaiman authored the episode "The Doctor's Wife" in 2011.
A film of his novel The Prestige was released on 20 October 2006. It was directed by Christopher Nolan and starred Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman. Despite differences between the novel and screenplay, Nolan was reportedly so concerned the denouement be kept a surprise that he blocked plans for a lucrative US tie-in edition of the book.
He won the BSFA award for short fiction in 1979 for the short story "Palely Loitering"; and has been nominated for Hugo Awards in the categories of Best Novel, Best Novella, Best Novelette, and Best Non-Fiction Book (this last for The Book on the Edge of Forever (also known as Last Deadloss Visions), an exploration of the unpublished Last Dangerous Visions anthology). The Space Machine won the International SF prize in the 1977 Ditmar Awards . 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 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 Priest's novel The Affirmation. It followed "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".
Priest lived in Devon but now lives on Isle of Bute. He was married to writer Lisa Tuttle from 1981 to 1987 and to Leigh Kennedy from 1988 to 2011, with whom he had twins. He currently lives with speculative fiction writer Nina Allan.
Arekita Productions is casting The Stooge, a short film from a screenplay by Christopher Priest... The story follows a downtrodden but determined man seeking work as a magician's assistant who enters the world of a legendary illusionist and a captivating showgirl, and soon realizes that the world of magic reveals more surprises than he could ever have imagined.
Slipstream does not define a category, but suggests an approach, an attitude, an interest or obsession with thinking the unthinkable or doing the undoable. Slipstream can be visionary, unreliable, odd or metaphysical. It's not magical realism: it's a larger concept that contains magical realism. Some familiar recent slipstream examples: Margaret Atwood's novel The Handmaid's Tale, the films Memento or Being John Malkovich, the opera Jerry Springer. Other novelists who have from time to time carried the slipstream torch include Anthony Burgess, Haruki Murakami, Don DeLillo, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, John Banville, John Fowles, Paul Auster and Dino Buzzati.