Christopher Priest (novelist)

Christopher Priest (novelist)
Christopher Priest
Born 14 July 1943(1943-07-14)
Cheadle, United Kingdom
Occupation Writer
Nationality British
Ethnicity English
Period 1966 -
Genres Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction
Notable work(s) The Prestige
Notable award(s) See below
Spouse(s) Leigh Kennedy

Christopher Priest (born 14 July 1943 in Cheadle, Greater Manchester) is an English novelist and science fiction writer. His works include Fugue for a Darkening Island, Inverted World, The Affirmation, The Glamour, The Prestige and The Separation.

Priest has been strongly influenced by the science fiction of H. G. Wells and in 2006 was appointed to the position of Vice-President of the international H. G. Wells Society.



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 had previously 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.

Tie-in work

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.

Priest was also approached to write stories for the 18th and 19th seasons of Doctor Who. The first, "Sealed Orders," was a political thriller based on Gallifrey; it was eventually abandoned due to script problems and replaced with "Warriors' Gate." The second, "The Enemy Within," was 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." This falling-out soured the production office on the use of established literary authors, with no more being commissioned as a result.

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[citation needed] so concerned the denouement be kept a surprise that he blocked plans for a lucrative US tie-in edition of the book.

Work under pseudonyms

  • Priest uses the pseudonyms John Luther Novak and Colin Wedgelock, usually for his movie novelizations. As well as the eXistenZ novelization (which undermined the pseudonym by including Priest's biography on the pre-title page), he has also novelised the movies Mona Lisa (as John Luther Novak) and Short Circuit (as Colin Wedgelock).
  • Priest has co-operated with fellow British science fiction author David Langford on various enterprises under the Ansible brand.
  • Comic book writer Jim Owsley changed his name to "Christopher Priest" in the mid-1990s. He has stated that he was completely unaware at the time that there was an established author of the same name.[citation needed]

Awards and honours

Priest won the BSFA award for the best novel three times: in 1974, for Inverted World;[1] in 1998, for The Extremes;[2] and in 2002, for The Separation[3]). He has also won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction and the World Fantasy Award (for The Prestige[4]).

Priest has also won the BSFA award for short fiction in 1979, for the short story "Palely Loitering";[5] 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 his The Book on the Edge of Forever (aka 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 [1]. 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 both Novacon 9 in 1979 and Novacon 30 in 2000, and at the 63rd World Science Fiction Convention in 2005.

In 1983, Priest was named one of the twenty Granta Best of Young British Novelists.

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."[citation needed]

Personal life

Priest is married to writer Leigh Kennedy and lives in Hastings with their twin children, Simon and Elizabeth. He was previously married to writer Lisa Tuttle.



Short Story collections

  • Real-time World, (s.s.) Faber and Faber 1975 - reissued 2009
  • An Infinite Summer, (s.s.) Faber and Faber 1979 (three stories reissued in "The Dream Archipelago")
  • The Dream Archipelago, (s.s.) Earthlight 1999 - reissued 2009
  • Ersatz Wines - Instructive Short Stories (s.s.) GrimGrin Studio 2008 (anthology of early works)

Short stories and other works

  • "The Run", (ss) SF Impulse, May 1966 [Volume 1 Number 3]
  • "Conjugation", (ss) New Worlds, #169 December 1966
  • "Impasse", (sss) SF Impulse, February 1967 [Volume 1 Number 12]
  • "The Ersatz Wine", (ss) New Worlds, #171 March 1967
  • "The Match", (ss) Tit-Bits, 11 November 1967
  • "Occupation Force", (ss) Tit-Bits, 25 November 1967
  • "The Haul" [with Dick Howett], (ss) Tit-Bits, 31 August 1968
  • "The Interrogator", (nv) New Writings in SF 15, editor John Carnell, London: Dobson, 1969
  • "The Perihelion Man", (nv) New Writings in SF 16, editor John Carnell, London: Dobson, 1969
  • "Breeding Ground", (ss) Vision of Tomorrow, January 1970
  • "Double Consummation", (ss) The Disappearing Future, editor George Hay, Panther, 1970
  • "Fire Storm", (ss) Quark/#1, editor Samuel R. Delany & Marilyn Hacker, Paperback Library, 1970
  • "Nothing Like the Sun", (ss) Vision of Tomorrow #10, July 1970
  • "Real-Time World", (nv) New Writings in SF 19, editor John Carnel, London: Dobson, 1971
  • "Sentence in Binary Code", (ss) Fantastic, August 1971
  • "The Head and the Hand", (ss) New Worlds Quarterly 3, editor Michael Moorcock, London: Sphere, 1972
  • "The Inverted World", (nv) New Writings in SF 22, editor Kenneth Bulmer, London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1973
  • "Transplant", (ss) Worlds of If, January/February 1974
  • "A Woman Naked", (ss) Science Fiction Monthly, v1 #1 1974
  • "The Invisible Men", (ss) Stopwatch, editor George Hay, New English Library, 1974
  • Your Book of Film-Making, (n.f.) Faber and Faber, London 1974
  • "Men of Good Value", (ss) New Writings in SF 26, editor Kenneth Bulmer, London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1975
  • "The Cremation", (nv) Andromeda 3, editor Peter Weston, London: Futura, 1978
  • "The Negation", (nv) Anticipations, editor Christopher Priest, Scribner's, 1978
  • "The Watched", (na) The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, April 1978
  • "Whores", (ss) New Dimensions 8, editor Robert Silverberg, Harper & Row, 1978
  • "Palely Loitering", (nv) The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, January 1979
  • "The Agent" (with David Redd), (nv) Aries 1, editor John Grant, David & Charles, 1979
  • The Making of the Lesbian Horse (n.f.), Novacon 9 (for the Birmingham Science Fiction Group), 1979
  • "The Miraculous Cairn", (nv) New Terrors #2, editor Ramsey Campbell, London: Pan, 1980
  • "The Ament", (nv) Seven Deadly Sins: A Collection of New Fiction, editor anon., Severn House, London 1985
  • The Book on the Edge of Forever, (n.f.) Fantagraphics, Seattle, June 1993
  • "In a Flash" (from The Prestige), (ex) Interzone, #99 September 1995
  • "I, Haruspex", (ss) The Third Alternative, #16 1998
  • "The Equatorial Moment", (ss) The Dream Archipelago, Earthlight, 1999
  • "The Cage of Chrome", (sss) Interzone, #156 June 2000
  • "The Discharge", (ss) Website 13 February 2002
  • "A Dying Fall", (ss) Asimov’s Science Fiction December 2006 [Volume 20 Number 12]
  • "The Trace of Him", (ss) Interzone February 2008 [Issue 214]
  • The Magic - the story of a film, (n.f.) GrimGrin Studio, Hastings, 2008


  1. ^ a b "1974 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 17 May 2009. 
  2. ^ a b "1998 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 29 June 2009. 
  3. ^ a b "2002 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 29 June 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c "1996 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 17 May 2009. 
  5. ^ "1979 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 17 May 2009. 
  6. ^ "1975 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 29 June 2009. 
  7. ^ "1981 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 29 June 2009. 
  8. ^ "1984 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 29 June 2009. 
  9. ^ "1995 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 29 June 2009. 
  10. ^ "1999 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 29 June 2009. 
  11. ^ "2003 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 29 June 2009. 

External links

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