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The Adjacent

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  1,173 ratings  ·  183 reviews
Tibor Tarent, a freelance photographer, is recalled to Britain from Anatolia where his wife Melanie has been killed by insurgent militia. IRGB is a nation living in the aftermath of a bizarre and terrifying terrorist atrocity - hundreds of thousands were wiped out when a vast triangle of west London was instantly annihilated. The authorities think the terrorist attack and ...more
Hardcover, 419 pages
Published June 20th 2013 by Gollancz
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3.46  · 
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 ·  1,173 ratings  ·  183 reviews

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I've been reading a lot of Christopher Priest lately and I think there must be some kind of critical mass build-up because I just exploded.

The good kind of explosion. Like, my mind just popped.

This one's a love story. Odd as that may seem, looking like a death and a mystery at the beginning.

At first, I wasn't quite sure what to think. These last few books have all been dealing with the Dream Archipelago, an alternate reality close to ours in so many ways but all the names and locations are diff
Manuel Antão
Jun 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

It does not look like it, but for me this is a love story at heart...

As usual in a novel by Priest, I had to keep my wits about me. (In)Sanity is the word of the day. The 400 pages of "The Adjacent" are dense with encrypted epiphanies, not all of them perceived at a first reading. So I advise you all to re-read it. You'll get something more out of it on a second reading.

For me any book by Christopher Priest can be used as a good exampl
Tudor Ciocarlie
The dream feeling of this book, the enigmatic characters which are in turn photographers, airplane pilots, illusionists or nurses, the illuminating connections with other novels by Priest, the transcending love story, the perfect prose, the unusual dystopia, the love letters to Spitfires but also to the forgotten pilots of the British bombers, the immersing style make The Adjacent the best read of the year, so far. Christopher Priest is getting better and better and from what his friend M. John ...more
Aug 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Another Christopher Priest book that gave me a great reading journey, but also left me scratching my head at the end. Seems to be a theme, but I'm just pulled into all his books.

There is something very appealing to me about the way Christopher Priest tangentially connects his novels. In this one he is at the height of his world-building powers, deftly weaving in elements of The Affirmation, The Glamour, The Islanders, and probably others I have yet to read. His precise, confident prose beckons one along into an uncertain environment of parallel worlds, doubling and tripling in numbers, engendering trust while at the same time stealthily destabilizing one's sense of real
Ian Mond
Mar 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Adjacent is my first taste of Priest’s work. I know, I know how could I call myself a serious genre reader and yet never cracked the pages of a Priest novel? I’ve always been aware of him as an author – when I was in my teens I knew that Priest had written two Doctor Who scripts for the 4th Doctor that were never made, and, of course, I’ve seen Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige – but I’ve never felt compelled to read his work. His novels, nearly a complete collection, sit on my shelves in the ...more
Short review: this is how sf should be written to be interesting, literate and satisfy the desire for "not the same again..."

Longer review: I would first mention that The Adjacent is connected with all the major C. Priest work (Affirmation, Separation, Dream Archipelago, Prestige, Islanders), has a sort of explanation for both the alt-world of Separation and the connection between the Archipelago and our world (hint: the title), though of course nothing is made that explicit

The novel (though aga
Jul 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sf, genre-fiction
(5/10) For most of its length, The Adjacent is startlingly bad, especially for an author as well-renowned as Priest. The science-fictional parts take place in an Islam-dominated Britain right out of a right-wing "Eurabia" screed, while the historical narratives are the usual patter of cameos by famous people and long recollections of backstory. After long hours of reading, none of it seems to be going anywhere.

Things change a bit in the final third. Without going into too many specifics, Priest
Jun 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this book. It reminded me of certain classes in Millhauser's creative writing class. In the end though, I really don't know what to make of it. The Prestige really comes together in an intellectually satisfying way, this does not.
ashley c
Jun 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Beautiful and measured prose by Priest, as always. What I appreciate from Priest's work is that he manages to use juxtapositions and clever parallels in every aspect of his novels, some unexpected, such that when you get a moment of "oh... wait" halfway through reading - it feels so satisfying.

I love how his careful and detached style of writing is able to somehow capture emotion. He deals with heavy technical descriptions with crisp and simple language. Throughout the book, he uses the same in
May 10, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
If you're like me and like your narratives to be mostly resolved by the end of the movie/book/story, then you might want to skip this otherwise excellent and intriguing book. I don't mind some ambiguity, but this was a case where I was definitely expecting some kind of "aha!" reveal moment that never came. Which is not to say that I regret reading the 3/4 of it I loved, but over the last 100 pages the book took it from a best of the year contender to an interesting item I'm happy to donate to th ...more
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
"We were naïve, all of us but especially me -- we thought we were making a breakthrough into something that would neutralise weapons. It would always be safe to use, non-aggressive in nature, harmless because it would remove harm. But what we all feared soon came to pass: minds other than ours worked out how to make quantum adjacency into a weapon of war."
-- Professor Thijs Rietveld, discussing Perturbative Adjacency Field.

This is a novel of ideas, of obsessions, and of the emptiness when a love
Saxon Bullock
Jun 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Beautiful. Confounding. Disturbing. Elliptical. You could throw lots of words at The Adjacent and not quite capture the peculiar magic that it generates, simply because there isn't anyone who writes novels quite like Christopher Priest. It's also a book that takes themes and motifs he's played with before (from the magic of The Prestige to the wartime drama of The Separation) and explores them in new ways, and the end result is fascinatingly weird, even if I've no idea how this would go down wit ...more
Mar 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: uk
The thinness, the repitition of history. Palimpsests.

The unfathomability of loss, of absence.

The war to end wars. It's very much a novel of the War on Terror, while nothing in it is about that. War becomes a permanent state of fighting itself. Parse that sentence anyway you want.

Wormholes. Illusions. Tricks.

Magicians. Mechanics. Nurses.

The Spitfire Mark XI doesn't have any guns. It just has a camera, to document what happens, to remember. It's powered by a Merlin engine.

The Adjacent is a terrif
Marc Nash
Dec 05, 2014 rated it liked it
Despite some nice detail and a couple of bravura set pieces, the book didn't really go anywhere. The interconnections between people and times were pretty transparent to spot and yet equally they weren't really elaborated on fully in a satisfying way to tie them altogether other than, well, their adjacency, as in proximity.

Did Tibor's quantum camera instigate the leaps into adjacency? Is that why they were near him but never really targeting him? Why did this only start now, what about all those
Espana Sheriff
May 21, 2014 rated it did not like it
Apparently this is a terrifically clever book full of intertwined plotting and callbacks to previous Priest novels.

It didn't work for me, though. Despite a couple of intriguing chucks (the trip to the front lines and the Polish pilot) the rest dragged. The central mystery seemed to have too much vague hand-waving and very little payoff.

Perhaps if the story had less science fiction trappings it would have bothered me a bit less, but we are set up with a very specific technical focus that then see
Jun 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Neighbours
Recommended to Alan by: Previous work
I was almost halfway through The Adjacent before I realized just how few events had actually occurred. This is not a complaint—rather, it's a tribute to just how well Christopher Priest manages the slow and quietly creepy development of his story.

Tibor Tarent is a successful freelance photographer in what seems like a terribly plausible near future, one that could easily have been imagined by J.G. Ballard or, more recently, David Mitchell, working with his wife Melanie in a desiccated Turkey tha
May 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book isn't so much a narrative as it is a puzzle to be solved. As such, I found it to be confusing. Besides a certain parallelism in the stories, I couldn't determine what the various chapters of the book had to do with one another. One in particular, where a stage magician meets H.G. Wells during WW1, seems to have nothing to do with anything that goes on in the rest of the book.

The only thing I can figure about what was going on in this novel was that some physicist had discovered a weapo
M. Gem
Aug 26, 2018 rated it did not like it
About a hundred pages into The Adjacent I decided to stop reading it; from the very beginning it dragged, and it wasn't showing any signs of improvement. But after checking out some reviews I picked it back up again, hoping that, as promised, once I reached the last quarter it would become interesting. Unfortunately, it didn't happen for me.
If I had to use one word to describe this book, it would be tedious. The stories are drawn out and honestly kind of dull and leave you with very little rewa
Charles Dee Mitchell
Aug 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary-sf
With just under one hundred pages left to go in Christopher Priest’s new novel, readers come upon a chapter titled “Closure.” I assumed this was Priest having a bit of fun, since closure is not a familiar trait of his fiction. The only other Priest novel I have read is The Islanders. It takes place in a realm known as the Dream Archipelago, is organized as a gazetteer, and leaves the reader pleasantly at sea with regards to most of the dozen or so narrative balls Priest keeps in the air. By comp ...more
Robin Burks
Mar 29, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book has a lot of nice ideas, although there isn't enough science behind the science fiction for my taste (a little science definitely makes a story more believable). The book does a good job of exploring options of alternate universes, but gets convoluted when it decides to also explore alternate periods of time in alternate universes.

The thing that killed this book for me, most of all, though, is that it has absolutely no plot. The smaller storylines (and believe me, I'm using that word
Keith Stevenson
Jun 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review originally appeared on the Newtown Review of Books (

I’ve read a few books by Christopher Priest now, and I have to confess that often I don’t really understand what is going on in them; but still I read them, and look forward to reading more. This was certainly true of the Hugo Award-nominated novel Inverted World, where a lot of very strange (but entertaining) stuff goes on: I finished it without any solid idea of why or how the events portrayed had happ
This is one of those books where I don’t know what to think afterwards. There’s such of mixture of narratives and emotions and a general concluding feeling of what-the-hell-just-happened that to generate an overall opinion is a bit difficult.

The Adjacent is a hodgepodge of stories and characters, loosely tangled together with parallels and similarities that somehow help to create a whole novel. Each section jumps along through time and space from one life to the next. From a tale of a magician
Dec 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
review of
Christopher Priest's The Adjacent
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - December 19-21, 2017

I've probably read 4 Priest novels now: Indoctrinaire (1970), The Inverted World (1974), The Extremes (1998), & The Adjacent (2013). Alas, I only remember The Inverted World, wch I liked very much, & The Adjacent, wch I liked almost as much. As such, I don't feel prepared to generalize about his writing. One of the 1st things that caught my attn in this one was:

"They walked as far as what Go
Jun 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, review
Christopher Priest’s new novel follows hot on the heels (for him) of The Islanders (2011). Two novels in three years: result happiness. Have we been here before? Stories that bear a ‘The [insert a word here]’ title can promise anything. But as is usual with Priest’s work, less (that title) really is more (what’s folded into the novel). And we do get what’s described; we just have to work at it too. It’s a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. But perhaps there is a key (Winston Churchi ...more
Nigel Mitchell
Mar 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a difficult book to review, because I imagine it would be very polarizing. Some people would love it, and some people would hate it. I personally fell on the side of loving it. But I admit, it's unconventional.

"The Adjacent" is one of the most unusual books I've ever read. It's not that the story is confusing. It's not that the story is mysterious. It's not that the story defies definition. It's not that the ending is shocking. It's that the novel is all of these and more. It's more like
Jonathan Rimorin
Aug 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Studied, measured prose slowly entice the reader down a rabbit hole of rapidly changing realities, sometime changing right in the middle of a sentence. The seemingly disparate stories in the novel slowly reveal themselves to be facets, or variations, or fugues based on the same story. It's heady, sometimes frustrating stuff, and I was alternately fascinated and irritated by what was going on, until a few pages before the end I suddenly figured out where it had to be going, and arrived at the end ...more
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Like all of Christopher Priest's books that I've read so far, the Adjacent is an intricate puzzle, involving characters who aren't quite what they seem, alternate realities, unreliable narration, and metaphysical mindfuckery. In fact, this novel's various realities overlap with several other works in his catalog, including his WWII novel, The Separation, and the books featuring the world of the Dream Archipelago. There's a teasing suggestion that these universes are all connected, possibly throu ...more
Oct 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
This reminded me of David Mitchell's recent The Bone Clocks in the narrative structure which jumps across different time periods from World War 1 to about forty years in the future in a world that has been ravaged by climate change. I think in many ways, although Priest can't quite match Mitchell sentence for sentence with the elegance of his prose, this is the better book. There's a science-fictional conceit called adjacency that seems to merge quantum physics/multiple universe theory with the ...more
Apr 04, 2016 rated it did not like it
I couldn't finish this. Christopher Priest is very good at coming up with interesting, challenging concepts and this sounded promising: but I kept reading and kept reading and kept reading, and I was just plain bored.

The bones of the story were intriguing, but there was far too much padding and unnecessary detail in every scene. Detail is good, IF it makes the scene or the characters more vivid - but here, a lot of it was tedious and unnecessary.

More than halfway through the book, I had a reas
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Christopher Priest was born in Cheshire, England. He began writing soon after leaving school and has been a full-time freelance writer since 1968.

He has published eleven novels, four short story collections and a number of other books, including critical works, biographies, novelizations and children’s non-fiction.

He has written drama for radio (BBC Radio 4) and television (Thames TV and HTV). In
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