• SumoMe


I just finished reading “The Inverted World” over the course of a weekend, and I’m still trying to recover from it. “The Inverted World” is apparently a full-length novel adapted from a short story, and while I haven’t read the short story I’m under the impression the novel just expanded onto it. The gist of the story (and the bizarre featured image art by SF Masterworks) is that there’s a guy named Helward Mann who isn’t quite a hero, but isn’t quite an antagonist; the book starts out with Helward joining what’s called a “guild,” a super-secretive society which operates on and around a moving city. The city has wheels, and workers move pieces of track from the back to the front at a constant pace in order to let the city continually move.

Why, exactly, the city is moving is something unknown to both the reader and Helward. In fact, it takes most of the book to understand the most basic questions that Helward has–like why the city is moving, what is it moving towards (or from), how long has the city moved, etc. Learning about these questions is a great deal of fun throughout the work, and Priest’s storytelling is superb. The story takes place in 5 parts, each one switching from first to third person, likely emulating the circumstances of Helward’s world…but I don’t want to give more than that away.

The book is a pretty fast read, as it is mostly narrative-based, but also because it is extremely compelling. The work hooked me right off the bat with the first sentence: “I had reached the age of six hundred and fifty miles,” which is perhaps one of the best opening lines I’ve read in quite some time. I strongly recommend this to anyone who likes science fiction, distopian novels, or thrillers.

Have you read “The Inverted World?” What did you think? Put it all in the comments below, but no spoilers!