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The Extremes [Paperback]

Christopher Priest
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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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.

From Booklist

FBI special agents Teresa Simon and her husband, Andy, have been trained in ExEx--Extreme Experience--a kind of virtual reality enabling intelligence officers to relive scenes of carnage, murder, and brutality as they learn to save themselves. Andy is investigating the possibility of connecting killers with victims thought to be random, in the hope of becoming able to predict violent outbursts, when, ironically, he is killed by a crazed gunman on a shooting spree. Teresa takes a restorative trip to England, her birthplace, sojourning in Bulverton, a sleepy former resort town. There, she winds up investigating a mass murderer's shootings of her hotel's owners, the barmaid's husband, and many others on the very day of Andy's death. Thanks to a bourbon-induced haze, the line between reality and ExEx blurs for panicky Teresa, and suddenly she is "experiencing" the violence in Bulverton. Or was she dreaming? hallucinating? If not, who is controlling her ExEx experience? This enthralling fantasy seems tailor-made for film, filled as it is with images blurring time and space. Whitney Scott --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Carrying less of a charge than his electrifying, prizewinning The Prestige (1996), Priest's latest uses an appealing premisethat virtual reality scenarios somehow influence real eventsbut applying it to an FBI agent whose husband is murdered in Texas by a spree shooter, at the same time as a quiet coastal village in England is suffering a similar attack, proves problematic. Teresa comes to England on bereavement leave from the Bureau, shattered by husband Andy's death, but she also has a mission. The town of Bulverton is quiet now, echoes of Gerry Grove's mass-murdering gunfire having long since died away. Teresa, though, wants to know why the killings took place simultaneously in England and Texas, and starts to open old wounds with her questions. Her quest takes her to the local Extreme Experience shop, where an infinite number of VR scenarios, available on microchip, can be loaded into a valve in the user's neck; some of these Teresa is convinced are linked to Grove, who stopped in there on the day of his rampage. Familiar with ExEx from the Bureau, which used it for interdiction practice, Teresa is still stunned to find scenarios depicting both the Texas and the Bulverton massacres already available, with a crew lodged in her hotel ready to do the definitive version of what happened in the village. Near-constant use of the ExEx material teaches her much about its possibilities and limits, but when she decides to take the bull by the horns and enter Grove's warped mindan option in one of the scenariosshe mysteriously becomes trapped in the past, on the day of the shootings. Engaging to a point, until the tracing of Teresa's learning curve crowds out all other characters and plot developments: the gimmickry and her personality just aren't compelling enough to carry the story on their own. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

"An enthralling novel, which raises important issues about the pornography of violence and its packaging as entertainment. A thought-provoking, terrifying and persuasive prophecy." --Jessica Mann, Sunday Telegraph

"The Extremes is a novel of violence and reality, of extraordinary power and ambiguity. A vital contribution from a key British writer." --Stephen Baxter, SFX

"Once again we reach the end of a Priest novel caught up in a prestidigitation. In the end, The Extremes is perhaps a nightmare, perhaps not. Most extraordinarily, for most of its length it is both. Teresa is both a meat-puppet victim of the new world, and one of those who writes our futures for us. Swift, haunting, cruel and kind, The Extremes is a guidance manual for the maze we face." --John Clute, The Independent

"Undoubtedly his best yet...a tour de force." --Brian Stableford, Interzone

"Mesmerizing." --Brian Case, Time Out [UK] --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Christopher Priest's novels have built him an inimitable dual reputation as a contemporary novelist and a leading figure in modern SF and fantasy. His novel THE PRESTIGE is unique in winning both a major literary prize (the James Tait Black Award) and a major genre prize (The World Fantasy Award). He was selected for the original Best of Young British Novelists in 1983. He lives with his wife, the writer Leigh Kennedy, and their children in Hastings.
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