Priest, Christopher


3 out of 5

(1 book)

Fugue For A Darkening Island

Set in the near-future, where nuclear war in Africa has led millions of refugees to arrive on Britain's shores and into conflict with the neo-fascist right-wing government which has used xenophobia to rise to power.  This book tells the story of Alan Whitman, who is one of the many civilians disenfranchised by the civil war as he attempts to survive along with his wife Isobel and their daughter Sally.

My girlfriend (yes, despite being a massive geek, I do have one) asked me as I was reading this if it was a good book and I replied that rather than 'good', it is 'interesting'.  Priest's most impressive achievement is that, despite writing this in the early 70s, he has created a near-future filled with tensions that are still relevant (and depressingly possible) forty years later.  In a world which has seen a resurgence in nationalism (where Britain votes to leave the EU and America elects Donald Trump), the background to this book resonated deeply.

At first the way in which Priest constructs the narrative was difficult for me; jumping between different timeframes from across Whitman's life every few paragraphs.  It made the book pretty hard to get into but, with perseverence, it does eventually work in the book's favour as we're slowly able to piece together the course of events both in Whitman's life and in the nation around him.

The biggest downside to this book is Priest's curious obsession with sex.  Don't get me wrong, I'm as obsessed with sex as the next man, but if I was writing a novel, I wouldn't shoe-horn in an erection alongside every plot point.  Genuinely, almost every event recounted from Whitman's life includes an overt and unnecessary sexual encounter.  Perhaps Priest was simply trying to show that, despite everything going on, the character is still obsessed with sex, but when reading the book it just seems weird.

3 out of 5


Science Fiction (here)