Christopher Priest

Reviews of REAL-TIME WORLD (1974)

An Infinite Summer

[Ten short stories about the testing of the real, the loss of realism, the gaining of reality. An evacuated city burns in a valley, a comatose man dreams, a closed community loses touch with the outside world, a lone woman walks bare through the streets of her city.]

The Times:

There is an echo of the idea [of human nature as a commodity] in A Woman Naked, a dire warning of the real sexual puritanism that underlies political oppression. Priest's lean, spare style is admirably suited, also to fantasy and – pace hardcore SF enthusiasts – a blurring of the two need not be a bad thing. We should not set down hardline chalk-marks to limit the parameters of our interest.

Martin Amis in The Observer:

Christopher Priest, in an appreciative introduction to his new book, says that the stories in Real-Time World are 'about the effects of stress on people.' Uncontroversial enough, by anyone's standards. Some of them explore the kind of stress that only a foul-minded SF writer would care to put people under (a girl obliged by law to go about naked for sleeping with people, a self-mutilating superstar's gory last stunt), while others are more conventional and more satisfying: computerised brain incarceration, astral creepy-crawlies, an eerie observer-or-observed conundrum. This is a startlingly uneven collection – unless Mr Priest can get to grips with his unforgivable prose he hasn't got, er, an hope of producing anything classy.

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