Christopher Priest passed away peacefully at home in the early evening of Friday, February 2nd 2024. He was eighty years old.
In the weeks before he died, Chris several times expressed the wish to leave a farewell message here, but this was a task we kept putting off. It seemed altogether too sad, I did not feel equal to it, and in the end we ran out of time.
I do know though, that what Chris most of all wanted to say was thank you. Chris’s readers meant the world to him. One of the things he loved most about attending science fiction conventions was how they brought writers together with their readers, in a way that felt informal, equal and democratic, altogether different from what went on at a more traditional literary festival. It was this love and respect for readers that kept Chris going to conventions, past the point where travel had started to become a problem for him.
So, on his behalf I would like to say thank you – to everyone who has dropped by here or will do in the future, to all those who have chatted to Chris in the bar at any point throughout his six decades of convention-going, to those who have brought books to be signed at readings and events, to the many readers who have written to him over the years, expressing their delight and amazement and gratitude for works that have delighted, amazed and in some instances proved life-changing. Most of all, to anyone who has ever picked up a Priest novel and inevitably, within mere moments, found themselves transported to a different reality.
Chris’s physical presence may have left us, but as readers we are lucky: a writer’s soul is immortal, instantly present and accessible through the stories, essays, criticism and novels they have left for us to find. As I said to Chris many times these past weeks and months, in this most important and essential of ways, he will always be with us.
The work goes on.
(Nina Allan, Rothesay, 05/02/24.)