Science fiction novel, published in 1974, written by Christopher Priest, hippie.

I say hippie because of the photo on the back cover, and also because he’s not happy with the unalterable way things are, but must toy with crackpot ideas and veiled criticisms of modern society.

The initial premise is that the mobile City Earth, trapped (or abandoned) on a foreign planet, must build track and bridges to winch itself along, following the mysterious “optimum” along some kind of inexorable path into the future. The citizens all belong to these secretive guilds, so information about their own city is doled out very sparingly. Also they have trouble with the natives of the foreign planet, who (hmm) speak Spanish. Interesting. Outside the City Earth, there’s past and future, and chaos and the warping of reality, and death. Then everything starts to unravel in warfare and revelations and rebellions and the mysterious deaths of male children. Oh, you’ll get no explanations from me, but understand that the initial premise gets drastically re-understood towards the end of the book and involves some exceedingly weird science. Mindfuckery ensues.

Priest added his own peculiar line drawings, including some that are supposed to be drawn by the protagonist, but the drawing style of these is no different. Seems like you’d want to make those two types of drawings different from each other, else you’re saying the author and the character are the same person, which is a stupid idea when the premise is this kooky and the writer looks like such a hippie. And there’s a plot point thrown in there to excuse the weird perspective of the drawings. Questionable. There is some attempt to develop relationships between characters, but you can pretty much disregard that as it’s fairly unsuccessful. Furthermore, I suspect Mr. Priest’s big idea was too big for him to explain satisfactorily – so the ending is a little less than satisfactory.

But it’s a decent read, I’m not saying otherwise. It is out of print, but try to find it nevertheless. It’s truly a weird one.

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