AN INFINITE SUMMER by Christopher Priest


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Five fantasy/futurist stories by the British author of The Perfect Lover--and the best of them, ""The Negation,"" a fine, lean parable of totalitarian censorship in a walled land, appeared in the Priest-edited Anticipations (1978). But the others, with more playful or strained notions, suggest that Priest really needs a full-length setting to develop his ideas convincingly. ""The Watched,"" set in Priest's Dream Archipelago, explores the concept of secretive observation: in a countryside strewn with microscopic ""scintilla"" lenses that are visual bugging devices, an amateur anthropologist becomes obsessed with observing the sex rituals of an isolated tribe; but soon he faces the question--""did he watch them, or did they watch him?"" And in the better, more mysterious ""Whores,"" a gassed soldier on leave hallucinates (or does he?) all manner of horror. These are worthy if imperfect concoctions, but the other two, very similar stories here are sentimental, almost cloying treatments of familiar time-travel paradoxes: Edwardian lovers frozen in time; a park with bridges of Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow; more lovers moistly separated by time warps. Priest's prose is never anything but clean and sharp, but most of the ideas here simply aren't up to his highest standards.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1979
Publisher: Scribners