To mark the 70th birthday of Christopher Priest, the acclaimed author of The Affirmation, The Prestige, The Islanders (winner of both the BSFA amd John W. Campbell Awards for Best SF Novel) and, most recently, The Adjacent we thought we’d celebrate another figure, from another, adjacent world.
Today is the70th birthday of one of the legends of the music hall, a giant of vaudeville. A man who made magic a curiously British affair. A man who first stepped on to the stage and amazed the public with his sleight of hand in 1970.
70 years a mystery, 43 years a magician; I give you Christos Reese.
To call Reese’s dumbfounding prestigitations ‘tricks’ is to call literature ‘sci-fi’.
Few will forget when he turned the very world inside out in 1974, when he created a machine that seemed to make space in 1976, or got the entire audience of the Hackney Empire to share the same dream of West country county in 1977.
But it was the illusion known as the Affirmation that sealed Reese’s reputation, when the whole country was sent off down numerous blind alleys and cul-de-sacs, left helplessly lost in a maze in search of an unfinished sentence.
It was this genius that allowed Reese to buy his villa in the Dream Archipelago. Just down the road from Ian Fleming’s Golden Eye, Indoctrinaire was the setting for many a sophisticated and exotic gathering. And at least 37 vicious murders. Most involving sheets of glass. Or mirrors.
But life has not always been so smooth for Reese. Who can forget his long running feud with Clark Avard? They worked together once on ‘The Separation’ but artistic differences saw Reese and Clark plunged into a bitter feud that has now lasted 215 years.
But this is a happy day. Let us not concentrate on the darker corners of the story. Let us celebrate instead a man who has said that while he is no magician he is neither anything else.
We know him as a supporter of young writers, a stern critic of sloppy card tricks and cheap deceits. Just as we can never be certain when we are caught in his magic we can be certain of the man.
Happy birthday Kristos Reese.