By Christopher Priest
There’s something comforting in the “many worlds” thesis that says we only occupy one among an infinite number of alternate realities. If we really mess up, or even get killed, we might still be doing great in the universe next door.
Veteran speculative author Christopher Priest (who wrote the novel The Prestige that was made into the Christopher Nolan movie) gives this idea a surprisingly fresh and subtle interpretation in The Adjacent, a combination Slaughterhouse Five and Cloud Atlas that stands as a love letter to England, magic, the Royal Air Force, and finally love itself. When photographer Tibor Tarent, citizen of a future Islamic Republic of Great Britain, loses his wife in a terrorist bombing (or does he?) he finds himself at the intersection of a series of adjacent worlds connected by a strange quantum device. Whimsical and compelling, this is a moving meditation on life’s contingencies, and all those might-have-beens that, at least in some possible sequence of events, actually were.