The Separation

The Separation Christopher Priest excels at rethinking SF themes lifting them above genre expectations into his own tricky chilling metaphysically dangerous territory The Separation suggests an alternate history

  • Title: The Separation
  • Author: Christopher Priest
  • ISBN: 9781882968336
  • Page: 209
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Christopher Priest excels at rethinking SF themes, lifting them above genre expectations into his own tricky, chilling, metaphysically dangerous territory The Separation suggests an alternate history lying along a road not taken in World War II But there are complications In 1999, history author Stuart Gratton is intrigued by a minor mystery of the European war which enChristopher Priest excels at rethinking SF themes, lifting them above genre expectations into his own tricky, chilling, metaphysically dangerous territory The Separation suggests an alternate history lying along a road not taken in World War II But there are complications In 1999, history author Stuart Gratton is intrigued by a minor mystery of the European war which ended on 10 May 1941 The British German armistice signed that month has had far reaching consequences, including a resettlement of European Jews in Madagascar In 1936, the identical twin brothers Joe and Jack Sawyer win a rowing medal for Britain in the Berlin Olympics it s presented to them by Rudolf Hess The brothers are separated not only by a twin s fierce need to be treated as a separate human being , but by sexual rivalry and even ideology When war breaks out Jack becomes a gung ho bomber pilot, Joe a conscientious objector Still they re inescapably linked, and sometimes confused Both suffer injuries and hauntingly similar ambulance journeys Churchill writes a puzzled memo later unearthed by Gratton about the anomaly of a registered pacifist Red Cross worker flying planes for Bomber Command Hess has significant, eventually incompatible meetings with both men Contradictions are everywhere As in his magical 1995 novel The Prestige Priest is fruitfully fascinated by the legerdemain of twins, doubles, impostors, symmetrical roles Churchill s double briefly appears So does the famous conspiracy theory that the Hess who flew to Britain with his quixotic peace deal wasn t the real Hess ring true Clearly The Separation was impressively, extensively researched Its evocations of bombing raids from either side of the bomb sites are memorable The unfolding story strands become increasingly disorienting and hallucinatory the easy escape route of dismissing one strand as delusion is itself subtly undermined The Separation is filled with a sense of the precariousness of history of small events and choices with extraordinary consequences David Langford

    One thought on “The Separation”

    1. It is one of my greatest sadnesses, as of about two hours ago when I finished this book, that I am not as good as Christopher Priest. For he is bloody good and an absolute madman.Twenty pages into this book, he rewrote the Second World War. Then he rewrote it again, I forget how many times but it was lots. I got to the first twist and immediately couldn't put the book down for nearly six hours. I think I must have read about two thirds of it in one day. He writes very well, and the plot and the [...]

    2. Priest's books are marketed as science fiction (in this case there is an alternate history component, which is also for some reason considered a sci-fi bailiwick) but are better thought of as akin to literary magical realism. As in many of his novels (e.g The Prestige) the theme of personal identity and doubling plays a central role (the two protagonists are identical twins). The doubling allows Priest to play games with narrative structure that keep your attention and keep you puzzling to figur [...]

    3. From darrengoossens.wordpress/2My wife’s review of this book is: “Engaging but unsatisfying. Not so good for people without a good knowledge of history.” I am rarely so pithy, direct, clear, definite or unequivocal, so shall proceed to spin out my review over hundreds of words. I may even reach a different conclusion.Christopher Priest the author came to prominence through the British science fiction (SF) magazines, New Worlds and the like. Perhaps it’s because the British writers inheri [...]

    4. An alternative history story with a difference, one that focuses on the time of divergence (and the lead up to it) more than the after effects. Most alternative histories posit a critical decision in the past that if made differently would have caused a very different subsequent chain of events. Here the author explores what might have happened (and what might have made it happen) if Churchill had accepted Rudolph Hess's plan for peace in 1941.The story focuses on two identical twins that become [...]

    5. Третья книга Приста в моем зачете. Главные герои: близнецы, которые делят не только внешность, но и инициалы. В юности они участвуют в Олипийских играх в нацистском Берлине в 1936 году, но после этого их пути расходятся. Один становится летчиком Королевской авиации, а другой - [...]

    6. -De las diferencias y lo que provocan, figurativamente hablando (y al pie de la letra, también).-Género. Ciencia-Ficción (en realidad no lo es, estrictamente hablando, pero la clasifico así por el bien del orden de distribución de libros en el blog. Cuento con su comprensión).Lo que nos cuenta. En 1999, Stuart Gratton es un escritor especializado en la Segunda Guerra Mundial que acude a un evento de firma de ejemplares de sus obras cuando una mujer le entrega un manuscrito de su padre fall [...]

    7. This might be Priest's best novel, an alternate-WWII story featuring twin brothers, a Bronze medal at the Berlin Olympics, a 1941 armistice between Britain and Germany, and a whole lot of phastamagoric shenanigans. Oh, and Rudolph Hess is a fairly major character in it. The book is convoluted, labyrinthine, and fascinating. I'm sure it would reward careful re-reading. Priest isn't and has never been much of a stylist, but no matter - this is highly accomplished and highly creative work.

    8. This is exactly what I've come to expect from Christopher Priest. Engaging, thoughtful, slightly mind-bending takes on reality with good writing and character behind the conceit. Worthwhile.

    9. “In my mind I saw or heard or remembered the deafening sound of the engines, brilliant flashes of light in the dark sky around us, a large bang that was repeated whenever I moved my head, a shock of cold as the windscreen in front of my face was shattered [], voices on the intercom, the huge and terrifying surge of the sea, the cold, the terror.”This alternate history tale of identical twin brothers won the BSFA Best Novel award in 2002. It is set before, during and after WWII, with most of [...]

    10. Brilliant. This is exactly what is wanted and expected from a Christopher Priest novel: crises of identity, the unreliability of memory, imposters, delusions, a critique of the construction of history - both public and private - and a compelling narrative that keeps the reader on his or her toes right to the end and then beyond.It's his best novel since "The Affirmation", and possibly therefore his best, full stop.Without giving anything away, then, a pair of identical twins take very different [...]

    11. This is the first book I've read by Christopher Priest but I'll be tracking down the rest now to see if they are as good as good. There are several interwoven alternate histories spread across the Twentieth Century and (I think) it is left to the reader to decide which is "real". The story is structured around win brothers growing up immediately before the outbreak of WWII. The author has done a pretty good job at injecting a convincing air of authenticity to the events (real and imagined). The [...]

    12. I gave this a good long chance, but around a hundred pages in I was still completely underwhelmed. I've heard good things about Christopher Priest, so maybe this just isn't the right book for me. On the other hand, maybe he just isn't the right writer for me.I skimmed a bunch of other reviews, and then the end of the book, and just -- really, it doesn't sound like it does anything particularly interesting. Alternate histories can be fascinating, but it doesn't sound like Christopher Priest ever [...]

    13. Como siempre me pasa con este tipo de historias, me deja un sabor amargo ese fluctuar sin explicación entra la razón y la irracionalidad, entre las alucinaciones y la vida real (si, tampoco me gusta Dick). Hermanos gemelos, universos paralelos y la locura, pareciera que el tema le encanta a Priest. Puede que no me guste lo que cuenta, pero muy bien contado.Interesante la ucrónica historia del mundo luego de finalizar la Segunda Guerra Mundial en 1941 pero C.P. nos deja con ganas de más.Mucho [...]

    14. an intriguing novel which refuses to be classified in any way. is it science fiction ? is it alternate history ? is it a novel about identities ? Christopher Priest is a real master of this form of novel.

    15. As my historian friend keeps reminding me, history is never just a simple narrative. It isn’t exactly what they teach you in school. It isn’t a bedtime story. There are so many factors involved, so many layers and pieces that history is more like a living organism than a fairy tale. History is constantly shifting and changing depending on the information used and lost and the people involved.On the surface The Separation is an alternate history. It details a world in which Britain and German [...]

    16. I'm giving this book 4 stars because I feel weird about books where it seems like I should be taking notes. This isn't so much a review as it is a collection of thoughts. So the big question I have is: what is this book about? Like what is the goal of the book?The book puts you in the shoes of the first character (Stuart Gratton). You realize Jack Sawyer's narrative can't be trusted-but his brother Joe can be. Stuart initially meets Angela Sawyer. You'll want to remember these names as they're t [...]

    17. This is an alternate history and a deep psychological portrait of a pair of identical twins. It takes on some of Christopher Priest's regular themes - duality and doubles, war, the unreliability of memory, parallel or fantasy/imagined worlds - but stands as one of his strongest. The idea of Rudolf Hess' flight to Scotland bringing a peace between Britain and Germany in 1941 is a nice choice of "branching" for the alternate history but the actual speculative aspects are less to do with the future [...]

    18. This is the third book I've read from Christopher Priest, and I'm really coming to love his style: not only his writing style which is ethereal and opaque, vague and evasive, but his content which is both otherworldly and realistic. After two of his books I've had a strong nostalgia for Haruki Murakami's "Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World." Both in tone and subject matter, Priest's work aligns well with some of Murakami, although the style and approach are quite different.This book [...]

    19. Kaum ein Autor übt eine derart magische Anziehungskraft auf mich aus, wie Priest. Und auch dieses Meisterwerk, das 2003 mit dem Arthur C. Clarke Award ausgezeichnet wurde, begeistert auf ganzer Linie.Auf den ersten Blick ein „Alternate History“-Roman, der eine Realität beschreibt, in der die vermeintliche Friedensmission von Rudolf Heß 1941 Erfolg hat und zu einem Friedensschluss zwischen dem Vereinigten Königreich und Hitler-Deutschland führt. Es ist aber viel mehr als das: Alternative [...]

    20. It was refreshing (and a bit of a downer) to read a tragedy. I've had a lot of trouble finding tragedies, since I don't think they sell well, but it was refreshing to find something sad and well-written. The ending was pretty depressing, but not illogical, and it was nice that I didn't have it figured out until the author chose to reveal it.As a standalone work, The Separation's alright. I'm rating it a four instead of three because I'm a fan of the author's overarching work. As a standalone boo [...]

    21. I knew next to nothing about this book when I started it--though having read and enjoyed several other Christopher Priest books, I expected it to be unsettling and un-put-downable. I was right. It's written with Priest's usual chilliness, and you're never quite sure what's going on or whether anything at all is real. There's a stunning amount of WWII history packed into the book, and I got little thrills when I was able to pick apart the actual history from the alternate one. Despite the feeling [...]

    22. As with most of Priest's books, The Separation does an excellent job of creating a sense of unease through the use of repetition. In this case, a story about twins set during the Second World War, there's also a lot of doubling and stories reflecting each other. Even historical figures (Churchill, Hess) using "doubles" or impostors. The satisfaction I've had reading Priest is the sense of figuring out a huge puzzle, but as always, there is a lot that isn't resolved by the ending, so if you're so [...]

    23. c2004: FWFTB: 1936, RAF, pacifist, compassion, peace. So, Locus said that this was 'one of the finest SF novels of 2002 and the Independent said that Mr Priest had concocted 'an impressive set of imagined places and times'. All of which I may have agreed to if I had only understood all the nuances. It entranced me to the end - but did I actually understand any of it? Not a whit which is why I am unable to recommend to the normal crew. "We were too far apart to speak to each other,but it was cert [...]

    24. This book about differing timelines and a potential alternate history WWII seemed interesting, but ended up being boring and incomprehensible to me. It's won a lot of awards, but just a quick glance at reviews shows that people's opinions are pretty polarized. Obviously the author did his research about the historical aspects, but the way he used twins and hallucinations to characterize events and possible permutations of them just became too hard to follow.

    25. What is reality? How do we know our experiences aren't a dream? Doubles, parallel worlds, and what really happened? Found these two reviews: sf-foundation/publicatifi/sfw/issue285/exc

    26. All writers are not trustworthy. It's quite hard to understand what actually happened and how the world itself separated :(

    27. Another WWII novel (but of course!) with a sci-fi supernatural twist. The writing was great, the plot engaging, the weird stuff meh but overall I liked it!

    28. Christopher Priest is a writer of meticulously constructed, Borges-esque literary puzzles, wherein narrators are unreliable, story elements sometimes contradict each other, and everything is open to different interpretations. In his “Dream Archipelago” books, there’s a secondary world, complete with its own geography and nation-states, that’s treated as being as true, if not more true than the reader’s reality.An alternate reality also factors into this novel, but it’s one in which t [...]

    29. The Separation is an extraordinary work of fiction, a modern classic and easily one of the finest novels I've ever read. Although Christopher Priest's prose is fairly straightforward, this isn't an easy novel. It's themes are challenging and it posses a labyrinthine structure. I suspect that challenging nature of the novel is what accounts for many of the one or two star reviews. This isn't for the faint of heart or those who thrive on what passes for mainstream, popular fiction. I'm not going t [...]

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