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Christopher Priest


The Prestige
Year 1995
Publisher Touchstone
ISBN 0684817551



Christopher Priest's The Prestige (the title of which refers to the residue left after a magician's successful trick) is enthrallingly odd. In a carefully calculated period style that is remarkably akin to that of the late Robertson Davies, Priest writes of a pair of rival magicians in turn-of-the-century London. Each has a winning trick the other craves, but so arcane is the nature of these tricks, so incredibly difficult are they to perform, that they take on a peculiar life of their own.  In one case involving a mysterious apparent double identity, in the other a reliance on the ferocious powers unleashed in the early experimental years of electricity. The rivalry of the two men is such that in the end, though both are ashamed of the strength of their feelings of spite and envy, it consumes them both, and affects their respective families for generations.
Publishers Weekly



Winner of the World Fantasy Award and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize

'Few recent novels have felt so vividly imagined.  But, in plotting his story's fantastical triumphs and reverses, Christopher Priest has not neglected psychological plausibility.  What makes The Prestige affecting as well as gripping are the flashes of remorse both magicians experience as their feud gathers unstoppable momentum.  A magnificently eerie novel'
The Sunday Times



Hubble image of Helix Nebula



Credit: NASA

New Twist on an Old Nebula
Looks can be deceiving, especially when it comes to celestial objects like galaxies and nebulas. These objects are so far away that astronomers cannot see their three-dimensional structure. The Helix Nebula, for example, resembles a doughnut in colorful images. Earlier images of this complex object -- the gaseous envelope ejected by a dying, sun-like star -- did not allow astronomers to precisely interpret its structure. One possible interpretation was that the Helix's form resembled a snake-like coil.

Now, a team of astronomers using observations from several observatories, including NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, has established that the Helix's structure is even more perplexing. Their evidence suggests that the Helix consists of two gaseous disks nearly perpendicular to each other.

NASA Image of the day archive





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