Christopher Priest

Reviews of THE SPACE MACHINE (1976)

[A young Victorian couple accidentally operate a time-space machine, and are flung not only into the future but also across the void of space. To return to their own time they have first to undergo great changes.]

The Space Machine

Los Angeles Herald-Examiner:

The writing is first-rate, the action, though leisurely, moves with a massive momentum, and the characters are entirely believable.

The Times -- London:

This is an astonishing change of pace for Mr Priest, and one which extends his powers in ways which reveal him as one of the best and most persuasive young British writers.

Oxford Mail:

A most amusing conceit -- and it contains mighty battles, a delicious transformation of the Thames Valley into a weed-clogged Martian canal, delightful period touches, and certainly begs comparison with John Fowles's The French Lieutenant's Woman.

Sunday Express:

A novel that is unusual for its kind, a science fiction story with recognizable characters and a sense of style, atmosphere and humour. Imaginative and full of amusing curiosities.

Yorkshire Post:

This tale has a refreshing quality which, allied to the author's skill, can lift it away from nostalgia into a class of its own. Super.

New Scientist:

A first-class specimen. Subtitled 'a scientific romance', it is set in the England of the young H.G. Wells, and shamelessly follows his style of science fiction. The book as a whole is a triumph, both witty and exciting, and I recommend it most strongly.

Times Literary Supplement:

This is an affectionate, lively pastiche of H.G. Wells. It is thoroughly entertaining: Mr Priest has so exuberantly ingenious an imagination of his own that one wonders why he wanted to lean on Wells. It is now clear that Mr Priest is not going to trot round and round the same old orbit, but is a versatile, autonomous writer from whom we can expect nothing expectable.

Illustrated London News:

A really first-rate book, exciting, original, and as tender in describing its human moments as it is convincing in its descriptions of time travel.

Martin Amis in The Observer:

Don't let the title, dedication and coda of The Space Machine fool you into thinking there's something Wellsian about its stodginess: Mr Priest's last novel, Inverted World, had exactly the same trouncing prolixity. The new book starts likeably, with more of the charm of Kipps than of The First Men in the Moon, as the gawky hero courts the mad inventor's beautiful young ward. Then the space machine appears, and the couple are launched into a conventional Martian adventure – and 300 pages of homicidal tedium. It's not so much that Mr Priest is boring as that he is interested in boring things: he couldn't drink a cup of coffee without telling you the approximate radius of the saucer. His story collection, Real-Time World, was full of racy ideas; but clearly he needs frenzied editing at book length, and doesn't get it.

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