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The Extremes Paperback – Sep 8 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (Sept. 8 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575075783
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575075788
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.5 x 19.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 299 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,506,042 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

A bizarre and horrible coincidence draws FBI special agent Teresa Simons to England: on the same day that a mass murderer killed her husband and fourteen others in Kingwood City, Texas, another spree killer massacred seventeen in the small Sussex town of Bulverton. Teresa seeks to understand her husband's death by exploring the similar but unrelated event in Bulverton, as she once explored reconstructions of historical mass murders in ExEx (Extreme Experience, a brutally realistic form of virtual reality) to train for her FBI job. In Bulverton she finds a commercial ExEx parlor, which, she is horrified and fascinated to discover, offers a Bulverton mass-murder scenario. As Teresa explores both the town and the scenario of Bulverton, the separations between reality and ExEx, between ExEx murder reconstructions, between past and present, begin to blur--and so does the separation between Kingwood City and Bulverton, as Teresa realizes the simultaneity of the events may be more than a coincidence.

A New York Times Recommended Book, The Extremes received the British Science Fiction Association award for 1999. Christopher Priest's previous novel, The Prestige, won the World Fantasy Award and the James Tait Black Award. --Cynthia Ward --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

A forensic thriller with a strong science fictional element, Priest's fourth novel provides suspenseful, intelligent entertainment. On the same day, at the same time, that a man with a gun committed mass murder in Kingston City, Texas, another armed man did the same in the seaside resort town of Bulverton, England. FBI agent Teresa Simons, 43, lost her husband in Kingston City. Now she's visiting Bulverton to determine if the slayings were more than coincidence. Teresa's training included the virtual reality scenarios of ExEx (Extreme Experience), which reconstructs violent events and requires participants to get shot over and over until they learn the right way to fight back. The FBI uses ExEx for training; companies market it for entertainment. Teresa uses ExEx facilities in Bulverton to seek parallels between the two murder sprees. But the GunHo Corporation has a major ExEx investment in the Bulverton incident, and wants to thwart Teresa. Could ExEx's feedback loops have altered time and reality, affecting or even creating the paired killings? Teresa's discoveries horrify her, but propel her into action. She endures a barrage of carnage to find her way back to her love. Priest (The Prestige) keeps one eye on his suspenseful plot, another on the SF angles that underpin it and a third, camera-eye on the real implications of worldwide instant communication, virtual reality and media-driven violence. If his lingo can get a bit thick ("It's the same thing, in algorithmic terms, as your basic what-the-hell symbolic adumbration"), his plot will keep most readers raptly amazed. (May) FYI: The Prestige won the 1996 World Fantasy Award for best novel.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
By the time I got two thirds of the way through, I had devised three or four potential endings in my mind and was looking forward to the author's take. WHAT A LETDOWN. I now feel embarrassed that I invested all this time just to witness a complete and total LACK of anything even resembling an ending. With about 20 pages to go, I realized something was fishy. I should have seen it coming. The first half of the book gives absolutely NO CLUE whatsoever what the point of the book is.
I was disappointed with the blatant anti-gun message. Now that I know the author is English, it makes sense, but hey, America is the crime capital of the world? And simply because of the "abundance" of guns? And that the main character was "poisoned" by her father because he was a gun fan?
I'm sure the other reviewers are right, I'm just too unsophisticated to "get it." However, for the American audience, this book completely tanked. I picked it up for one dollar at our local convenience store. Sure, it didn't cost much, but the time invested reading it could have been used a lot better.
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By Steven Laine on June 18 2002
Format: Paperback
I picked this up by chance at a bookstore, never heard of the author prior. I was about 50 pages in when I recalled I had originally found it in the SF section. Where was the science fiction part of the story? This was starting out as just a good novel, cleanly written, with a great eye for insignificant detail that helps flesh out the tale. Having read SF throughout most of my reading career, I know most of it is plot driven with characters and settings just used to push along the nifty story. This book takes its time (luxuriates?) developing the main character, Teresa Simons, a real woman who adapts within character to the unfolding events. Its done so well I assumed the author was a woman. (He's not). She has grown up in England, the daughter of a career US military man,becomes an FBI agent, and one day loses her husband in a random spree massacre.
This is the kind of SF I need now and then, maybe the best kind; where the whole story isn't techy, there is just one added element/theme to a time that could otherwise be today, ExEx. (Extreme Experience, virtual reality on steroids.) The story takes a very pleasant ramble through Teresa's' life, and from time to time she does an ExEx scenario, first for FBI training and later through a commercial provider. The iterative process she goes through to improve her performance is the most interesting of the whole book. I want this in my life for home, work and social situations. It's like the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray, where he is trapped into relieving the same day over and over again, until he eventually he gets it right. How cool would that be??
The rich, lush detail of the novel echoes the supposed detail Teresa finds in the hyper-real VR scenarios.
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Format: Paperback
This is a rather frustrating book -- generally well written, filled with interesting ideas, but sometimes inconsistent and sometimes simply unbelievable. Teresa Simmons and her husband are trained FBI field agents in what seems to be our present, except that both were trained with the help of an extremely sophisticated virtual reality system that put them into various roles in a wide range of historically-based "killer" scenarios. Through repeated insertions into each scenario, they had to learn to react appropriately and to survive the situation. (The process seems extremely wasteful of personnel, not to mention impossibly expensive.) Anyway, her husband is killed in the line of duty in a small Texas town and Teresa, trying to cope with her loss, discovers a similar mass killing took place at the same time on the same day in a small town in the south of England. So, naturally, she goes off to Sussex to look around. (Huh?) Then she begins patronizing the local virtual reality provider and discovers a whole new kind of "shareware" virtual experience. (If she's so well trained and informed, why had she never heard of this before?) The overlap between the incidents in Texas and England become more pronounced and Teresa's virtual experiences become more complicated, until everything comes to a head in a scenario within a scenario . . . sort of. The problem is, Priest assumes that a woman experiencing a man's role in virtual reality -- including sexual activity -- won't react any differently than she had as her own self. This seems extremely unlikely. And he has a very shaky grasp of what West Texas is like, even though he was previously married to Texan author Lisa Tuttle. And nothing is ever really resolved. It's like he was three-quarters of the way through writing and re-writing the book, and just stopped.
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Format: Paperback
Christopher Preist writes stories that are on the fringe of science fiction. Calling him an SF writer is too limiting - he is a writer with imagination, who writes stories that stretch the limits of imagination.
This novel focuses on one character's virtual reality experiences. I won't bother to tell the story - another reviewer already did that. What stands out is this book, though, is the way the plot folds over and over, until the reader loses touch with reality.
I say this is a disturbing book as well - when I was reading it, I found it so skewed that I could only read a few paragraphs at a time. I had to stop and do something else for a few minutes, to anchor myself, before coming back to it. Nevertheless, I read it in one day.
This book incites a kind of subconscious itch, a discomfort that arises from not knowing what reality the characters is in. A brilliant work, along the same line as The Prestige, with its multiple realities.
In the end, this novel shows that the book is the ultimate virtual reality device. Preist's mastery of a complex plot leads the reader down dark paths to dead-ends, before finally coming to a totally unexpected resolution.
Great work, Chris.
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