Inverted World, Christopher Priest

  Genre: Science Fiction

 Publisher: Harper & Row

 Release Date: 28 May 1974

 Where you can find it: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters

Website: Christopher Priest

 Character: Helward Mann is part of the elite, aware of the desolation that surrounds the  mobile city, waiting to consume it if they slow down. He is part of the dominant sex, as female births continue to dwindle. Where is the city physically located? What happened to the rest of the world? These questions, and others, cloak the mysterious city and through Helward’s character and his interactions with citizens and foreigners, we learn how the city came to be. We also get the perspective of Elizabeth Khan, but I’ve said too much.

Plot: The city must move forward, winching itself along mobile tracks. Despite the efforts of the city, they continue to fall farther behind the optimum, which if continued, will result in the city being crushed by gravitational forces. For Helward and his people the drudgery and strain, and attention put into their winching pace is a necessity; stillness means death. Death creeps behind them in the distance, with every sunset gaining on them. But why must they move forward, laying and removing tracks, what was life like before the winching? For this you’ll have to pick it up.

Review: The book started off slowly, setting up the context and layering the plot. While reading it, I have to admit, I was a little annoyed by this. But after distancing myself from the novel, I can appreciate Priest’s ability to mould a text, drawing the reader in with his distorted, backward, inverted world. Many mainstream novels depend on fast paced action, quick exchanges and cliff hangers at the end of every chapter to keep the reader interested. It’s a little insulting to us as readers that some writers think we need a shiny toy dangled before our eyes constantly or else we will lose interest. Not every single word in in a novel needs to excite us. And this isn’t a reflection of the base quality of novels, but of life in general. If a page doesn’t upload in five seconds we get mad. If an email takes longer than ten seconds to send we get panicky. God forbid a YouTube video not load instantaneously.

We need to slow down. We’ve become a culture of expectation and this has lessened our ability to appreciate the details, to read slowly with attention. Inverted World slows down the pace of the reader as well as the characters. Just as we read slowly, fingers tracing smudge lines underneath every word, so do the men of the city stumble slowly on, trying to escape the “past.” The need to pace seems greater for Helward than it does for the modern reader, for Helward risks death if he doesn’t. But what do we stand to lose by our quickened, skimmed patterns of reading? What worlds are left unknown to us because of our inability to slow things down?

People may be frustrated by this work because of the undynamic main character. However, this text doesn’t rely on the drama, intrigue and conflict surrounding its main character to tell the story. The events and situations strung together bind this text, making it science-fictional as much as it is philosophical. We don’t need to feel “sympathy” for the low-trodden, beaten character in order to have a thrilling story. And even so, I still enjoyed Inverted World. It’s refreshing to read something that doesn’t rely solely on the drama between characters, tensions are produced elsewhere.

Backwords Verdict: Certified Hooker

Following this grading scale of course:

Not a Hooker (I wouldn’t recommend this, even to people I hate)

Hooker in Training (Needs a lot of work)

Graduate Hooker (Really Good, but needs to fix some things)

Certified Hooker (Very satisfying, little to no complaints)

Distinguished Hooker (Flawless, I’d comeback for other services)

Other Works: This novel drew me in, I’d consider giving it another read. I’m planning on reading The Adjacent, so look out for a possible review of that in the future.

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Free Time?

Is free time actually time to do whatever you want, or just time you’re not paid to do what others want?

I am doing it again. I stop, removing my fingers from the keyboard. I had just finished planning my day for the week. It was a strange, surreal moment. I had done similar things before, organizing and planning my day. But this time was different. This time I  realized how stupid I am.

How many times have I “planned out” my day, in order to make sure it was well “spent?” Spending a day? When you think about it, the concept of spending a day is absurd. The concept of planning a day may be even more so.

Capitalism has infested my vocabulary. The jargon of the workplace has infected my thoughts. My “free time” is influenced by my work habits. Is free time actually time to do whatever you want, or just time you’re not paid to do what others want?

I can’t escape the demand to prioritize, organize and mechanize. Though I may not be at school or work right now, my mind is psychologically wired to be in work mode, simply because that’s what it’s most used to. I can’t simply relax because I am not working or at school, nor do I suppose anyone can. Capitalism stains, and no matter how hard we may try to wash it, some dirty residue remains.

Thanks Weekly Writing Challenge for messing up my week. What the heck am I going to do now?

Some other cool posts that may trigger deep thoughts. Reader be warned.

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  2. Random Bits of Conversation Overheard Over Time | I’m a Writer, Yes I Am
  3. Weekly Writing Challenge: Lunch Posts | Finding Life
  4. My Darling | Broken Light: A Photography Collective
  5. DP Challenge Weekly Writing Challenge: Staring Off Into Space | Sabethville
  6. A veteran’s fondest memory | From One Crazy Life To Another
  7. Knowledge Insults My Intelligence | Bumblepuppies
  8. Weekly Writing Challenge: Lunch Posts | khaula mazhar
  9. Weekly DP Challenge – Lunch posts | Its all about a bit of this and that.
  10. Weekly Writing Challenge: Lunch Posts | The Solidarity Ramblings Of A Wisdom Seeker
  11. Lunch: Fantasy Vs. Reality | Write Through Life
  12. Lunch Day One/Weekly Writing Challenge | standinginthestorm
  13. Blue Monday | Stories from aside
  14. Today I’ll defer to the dog | Life is Unfolding
  15. Lunch, Day 1: Too Quiet « there’s this book i’m reading.
  16. Lunch Break, Day 1: The Distant Banana | Stealing All the Sevens
  17. DPchallenge: Lunch break…or not | Mindful Digressions
  18. Weekly Writing Challenge: Lunch Post | lifethoughtenergy
  19. Daily Post Challenge: Lunch Posts | Flooding August
  20. Lunchtime | Living and Lovin

My Music Picks: Peaky Blinders

If a picture paints a thousand words, a lyric evokes a thousand images.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Red Right Hand

The acting and dialogue make the show, but the poetic tunes in Peaky Blinders deserve some credit too. The theme song by Nick Cave &The Bad Seeds – Red Right Hand, is not what I expected the theme song to be. I anticipated a sadder tune, something more reminiscent of the horrors of the war, but I was wrong; this definitely works. Picture Tommy Shelby walking slowly through the streets of Birmingham, cold eyes lifeless and unfocussed, while wild eyes stare in fear from dumpsters, street corners and windows. The images that the lyrics suggest are so forceful that I can’t help but associate them with Tommy in his flat cap, crisp collar and black slicked shoes. Though only the first two minutes or so of the song are used, they are distinct and memorable.

Jack White – Love is Blindness

Not again. We’ve all heard this song used in a trailer, show or movie at some point, and it may seem overused, but that’s a testament to the greatness and versatility of this song. If a picture paints a thousand words, a lyric evokes a thousand images, precisely why this song suits so many different texts. Easily recognizable after the first few notes, the electric, new rock sound compliments the exciting season finale perfectly.

Some Other Great Peaky Blinders Tunes:

Nick Cave & Warren Ellis – Martha’s Dream

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Abattoir Blues

The White Stripes – St. James Infirmary Blues

The White Stripes – I Fought Piranhas

The Raconteurs – Blue Veins

Tom Waits – Time

Dan Auerbach – The Prowl

Final Thoughts: I could write a novel on each song, but I won’t, this post would never get published. You need to check out the entire soundtrack, for you will thank me when you do. You’re welcome. Head to BBC, they have all the tracks listed by the episodes they appear in.

What are your favourite tracks from the show? Does it annoy you when you hear different sources using the same tunes? Do you automatically compare the succeeding uses to the first time you heard the tune used in a text?

Peaky Blinders: Yup, this is definitely a hooker

Network: BBC Two

Originally Aired: September 12th, 2013

Creator: Steven Knight

Grace: You think I am a whore?

Tommy: Everyone’s a whore, Grace. We just sell different parts of ourselves.

Background: Peaky Blinders? Yes, that’s right, but don’t rule it out for its quirky title. This historic crime drama set in 1919 Birmingham gets its unique title from an actual gang that sewed razors blades on the fringes of their caps. Whether or not the original Peaky Blinders were a single gang or a title for rowdy, violent youth is debatable. The show, however, settles on shadowing the lives of a single gang family: the Shelby Family.

Overview: Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy), the bookie and brains behind the Peaky Blinders, is a cool, clever man with eyes as chilling and morbid as death. After returning from the war, like many men, he is changed. Tommy takes up the business that his aunt Polly (Helen McCrory) ran for four years while he was away at war. Despite the past that dogs him and the enemies that swarm him, Tommy slaves to bring power and legitimacy to his family name. His plans are tested by Inspector Campbell (Sam Neill), a ruthless man sent from Belfast by Winston Churchill to retrieve stolen weapons.

What’s New?: While watching the show I had to rewind at many places; the shots and settings amazed me (though admittedly I also rewound a lot to catch the words of the characters, one probably led to the other). The shots are stunning, and the scene transitions are seamless, effortlessly merging different plots into dynamic montages.

It is hard to define something because the moment that we do we limit what it can be. Peaky Blinders is more than its drama, dazzling shots, striking characters and dynamic plot. It offers a new take on period dramas by changing the dialogue. The conversations in this show are fresh and new, not relying on the typical quick exchanges of overused clichés found in most gangster-cop dramas. The writers and editors put time into crafting the utterances of every character. For this, the characters seem authentic, so many of Tommy and Campbell’s lines can stand alone as iconic quotes. We can believe that Tommy is cold, fragmented, sincere, conflicted and intelligent and not feel conflicted by this knowledge. Inspector Campbell is creepy, terrifying, and menacing all at once, with his overbearing stalk. Campbell cannot be summed up as good, nor Tommy as bad; these characters and their motives are too complex to be described in a single word.

Aunt Pol is a provocative female character, but not in the expected sense. She is neither the hard-ass woman nor the needy woman, she is simply herself. Strong female characters are sometimes defined by their ability to be like men and shake off “female tendencies”, but in her actions, Aunt Pol works against this convention. She cunningly uses her sex to advantage herself (her scene with Campbell is brilliant). Those who demand respect from others, often receive fear instead; Aunt Pol doesn’t demand it yet is respected and feared nonetheless.

And then there is Grace (Annabelle Wallis), not to be ignored with her angelic, sad voice. She is beautiful, and seemingly out of place in the dirty, rough slums of Birmingham. But there is more to her than her controlled, calculated actions let on (that’s all I will say).

Final Thoughts: There is no doubt in my mind that period dramas will continue to be conceived, developed and birthed by major networks; bastard drama offspring produced from a single mother plot. But Peaky Blinders varies from the main stream current, daring to give audiences a new take on historic dramas, conventional characters and character dialogue.

What makes you hooked on Peaky Blinders? Why do you think modern audiences have such a preoccupation with historic dramas?