The Islanders (Christopher Priest novel)
|Cover artist||Grady McFerrin|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover and Paperback)|
The Islanders is set in the same "Dream Archipelago" as Priest's 1981 novel The Affirmation and short story collection The Dream Archipelago (1999), but unlike the previous books it is set primarily within the islands as a guidebook to them. It quickly becomes apparent that it shares with its predecessor the use of an unreliable narrator and though it portrays and describes a number of the exotic islands, the specific details, even names and locations, shift as the story is told and the reader catches glimpses of the true nature of the narrator.
Publishers Weekly wrote: "British novelist Priest (The Prestige) creates a mind-bending, head-scratching book (already much lauded in the U.K.) that pretends to be a gazetteer of the Dream Archipelago, uncountable islands spread around a world whose temporal and spatial anomalies make such a project futile. The dispassionate descriptions of separate islands include odd references out of which it's possible to begin assembling a cast of characters: maniac artists, social reformers, murderers, scientific researchers, and passionate lovers. Some of these categories overlap, and all the actors are maddeningly fragmented, apt to fade away or flash intensely to life. Interpolated bits of directly personal narratives sometimes clarify and sometimes muddy the story (or stories), while uncanny events struggle to escape the gazetteers' avowedly objective control and Priest's elegant, cool prose. The result is wonderfully fascinating, if occasionally frustrating, and entirely unforgettable."
The Islanders won the 2011 BSFA Award for Best Novel and in 2012 came joint first (with Joan Slonczewski) in the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.