Good thing I like to re-read books (yep, I’m one of those re-reader people)
I Islanders is like a stack of papers one finds in someone’s room. Most of it are chapters to a guide book but some of them are random stories or journal entries–as if someone has been collecting all the information they could real & fictional, because they loved the islands so much.
Trouble is that the stories don’t all agree, there is no overarching plot and the islands themselves are basically unplottable.
Don’t get me wrong, when I say trouble, I mean it in a good way. The reader is left with the mystery (Christopher Priest obviously treats his readers as intelligent). And I definitely need to reread this book to get more and more out of it, but I bet I could reread it many times and get different nuances–I love it when that happens.
What is really cool about the book is the stories relationships to one another are as complex as the characters relationships. After all, the context for someone’s life is based on the relationships that person has with herself (himself), other people and the play in which she lives. (This book explores that too).
If you are into science fiction, anthropology, geography, Lord of the Rings (re: invention of another culture), wicked (ditto), or philosophy give this a read. The stories are short and the meaning is deep.
PS this would make a great tv show with its complex vignettes, although I doubt anyone would be brave enough to do this, but it would be awesome!!!