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Fugue for a Darkening Island

fugue1,155 words

Christopher Priest
Fugue for a Darkening Island
London: Gollancz, 2011

Christopher Priest is a British sci-fi writer best known for The Prestige, a 1995 novel successfully filmed in 2006 by Batman re-inventors Jonathan and Christopher Nolan. Fugue, his second novel, was originally published in 1972, and re-issued in 2011 by Gollancz.[1] 

Fugue is a part of the British tradition of catastrophist novels which includes The Day of the Triffids and The Shape of Things To Come, but bears most resemblance to John Christopher’s Death of Grass (Penguin Modern Classics), which is regarded as something of a genre classic. It also forms a neat pair with Jean Raspail’s New Rightist The Camp of the Saints. Fugue is not as good a book as the two latter, but it is notable for its theme, in some ways similar to Camp of the Saints, of a massive and sudden immigration of Africans (Afrims) into England due to a catastrophic nuclear conflagration on the Dark Continent which has completely collapsed the ecology and the economy.

The story follows Alan Whitman[2] as his life disintegrates, losing first “his job, then his family, then his identity.”[3] Whitman is a college lecturer and a run of the mill liberal. For a while he’s involved in pro-immigrant campaign groups along with many of his students, before concluding that he can basically sit out the problems caused by the African influx. He’s wrong. The problems follow him, as they follow millions of others. Then they catch him up.

Of course apocalyptic and catastrophic scenes are ten a penny in our popular culture, but there’s something profoundly shocking about envisioning one’s own folk being burned out of their homes, forced into refugee status, and chased into our familiar countryside. This is not beyond the realms of possibility, given the present racial demographics and present and future levels of immigration. (Fugue describes African immigration, which is a factor in the real world, but the Asian-Muslim presence is now more likely to cause problems of the type described.[4] It should also be borne in mind that the British were disarmed by the State in the wake of the race riots in the port cities in 1919,[5] and in Fugue the British are encouraged by a racialist propaganda paper to fight with “petrol bombs, coshes, and garrottes” (p. 110), that being all they can lay their hands on.

The new 2011 edition has a short introduction by the author. In explaining the genesis of the novel as partly inspired by the effects of the sectarian war in Northern Ireland (blocked streets, paramilitary recruitment, regular large-scale fighting and rioting, etc.), and partly by the reaction to non-white immigration into mainland Britain, Priest makes the astounding claim that, after some right-wing agitation and inflammatory speeches like Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech, “Assimilation soon began, and by now is complete” (Foreword, vii).

If Priest seriously believes that’s true of ethnic relations in Britain generally, one can only assume he hasn’t been getting out much in recent years. Certainly the whole atmosphere and force of his book contradicts that view. Of greater significance though, is the fact that the text has been modified between editions. Priest makes the revealing comment that he wanted to make changes because “sensibilities about the subject matter began to change, attitudes to it changed, even the vocabulary of it changed. The story, which I saw as an attempt to describe a global disaster in the ironic and liberal terms of its day, gradually became misunderstood” (Foreword, viii).

Priest cites the example of two reviews in Time Out,[6] separated by several years, the first praising his anti-racism, the second accusing him of being a fellow traveller of the far Right. To avoid such confusion Priest has “modified” his text. I don’t have a copy of the original edition, but I think some enterprising literature student should do a comparative analysis and make a judgement as to whether Priest has caved in to the pressures of political correctness. Your liberal professors are sure to be delighted with such an endeavor.

The background situation in Fugue develops rapidly, and perhaps thinking of Powell again, Priest has a right-wing Tory, John Tregarth, elected to power on a Nationalist, anti-immigrant platform. Some of the armed forces and police sympathetic to the Afrims split away to form the opposition in a civil war, and a third group simply try to avoid any involvement at all, at least for as long as they are not personally affected.

The action of the novel is intercut with incidents from Whitman’s sexual career. I wondered why, until it occurred to me that the structure is meant to imply maturation. Whitman has never had to grow up, not until circumstances force him to become a man. Infantalization is one of the most significant features of our societies now, and in describing this Priest is prescient.

In the end it’s the treatment of the women in Alan Whitman’s life, his wife and daughter, the former of whom he doesn’t much like, the latter he doesn’t really know, which destroys the last vestige of his liberalism and awakens him to the blunt realities of invasion and replacement. The best part of this book is the final sentence.


1. Gollancz is today the sci-fi imprint of Orion, which is a division of the conglomerate Hachette. Gollancz was founded in 1927 by Victor Gollancz, a London-born Jew who also founded the Left Book Club, one of the main aims of which was to fight fascism. For a time Gollancz and the Club were pro-Communist, but this changed with the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact of 1939, after which they took a democratic socialist line. Gollancz’ father was an orthodox Jew and his uncle a Rabbi, though Victor’s own religious beliefs were a mixture of Judaism and Christianity. Essentially he seems to have invented his own religion to suit himself.

2. The name is suggestive, and indeed the first sentence of the book is “I have white skin.”

3.  Brian Aldiss, Trillion Year Spree (London: Paladin 1988).

4. In a pub argument a supporter of the Nationalist government tells Whitman that “Half the white population of Leicester has been displaced.” This is close to the real demographic situation of that city, though the displacement has taken place over several decades.


For a Left-wing review of a Left-wing book on this subject see

6. Time Out began life in 1968 as a London listings magazine with a Leftist counter-cultural flavor. At one point in the 1970s they simultaneously had anarchists and Trotskyists on the editorial staff and a Rothschild nominee on the board of directors! In the 1980s some of the comrades defected to launch the now defunct City Limits after discovering that some were more equal than others (that is, the commitment to equal pay for all staff was abandoned). Like much of the print media Time Out (London) is struggling and recently announced a switch to a weekly giveaway format.



  1. Franz
    Posted March 14, 2013 at 4:16 am | Permalink

    Re: Checking original edition.

    Look to any used bookshops or junk stores. The US title was _Darkening Island_ and the 1974 Manor Books cheap paperback edition had appropriately garish nightmarish cover art. (You can see it at the Amazon page for that edition, if it’s still there.)

    In fact if I remember correctly the cover art was the only interesting part of it. But if he softsoaped the story for modern sensibilities, it just means cover art isnt the only thing that’s gone downhill since the 70s.

  2. CosmicSurfer
    Posted March 14, 2013 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Wow! Truly heretical stuff. Will have to seek out a copy. This cover art would surely be labelled a ‘hate’ crime today:

    As for demographics, of my many cousins, more than 10% have married/bred with non-whites. So, do the Maths, it’s happening!

    How long before ‘white’ genes only exist as DNA markers and not as humans?


  3. Spaniard
    Posted March 14, 2013 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Very interesting, I’ll have to buy secondhand.

    In Spanish.

    El titulo es “Fuga para una Isla”

    Para una version de segunda mano de este libro en Español, tiene dos versiones una Española de Edhasa de 1981 y otra Argentina de Alfa Argentina de 1975.

    En se pueden conseguir facilmente.

  4. Posted March 14, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for this. I was aware of Christopher Priest as a science fiction writer, but I was totally unaware of this book. It sounds well worthwhile.

  5. me
    Posted March 14, 2013 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    “The colonization issue patriot brought up is an important one.

    In North America people generally tend to think of colonization involving a population displacement.

    In the academy this is not how the term is used. The major post-modernist work on colonization is by Columbia’s late Edward Said, a Palestinian Christian who discussed Europe’s colonization of especially the Islamic world, a historically quite successful civilization.

    This colonization by and large did not involve a repeopling or demographic replacement, but rather the use of political, economic, and military power to achieve a situation of social change to expedite resource extraction.

    This is comparable to the case of India’s colonization, and really exemplifies what colonization after the 1700s or so, and outside of Australia and the Americas. A small number of Europeans would go in to area which, in some cases, had quite successful historical civilizations, and dominate and manipulate the society for resource extraction.

    This exactly what Jews are doing, as an ethnic group, to North America and Europe today.

    Anyone familiar with colonialism in the modern academic sense should not be shocked at the fact that it often has a racial or ethnic component. It did with European colonialism where Whites as a distinct ethnic group were the colonizers, and it does today with Jewish colonialism where Jews, also a distinct ethnic group, are the colonizers.

    There is an additional factor, with modern Jewish colonialism, not found in most cases of historical colonialism, but arguably similar to that of the colonialism of South and Central America.

    This is the use not of displacement but of mixing as a tool to achieve some end which makes the colonizer’s position more secure.

    In S. America mixing with the natives led to the development of a Mestizo ethnic group with some cultural ties and allegiances to Spain. This made fortified the S. American colonial position.

    The use of mixing as a tool works differently with Jewish colonialism in North America and Europe, because Jews aren’t mixing with us in large numbers to achieve an allegiance. Rather, they are using a third parties of relatively ignorant and by-and-large low-IQ people, imported en masse, to reduce the chance that a large group of culturally knowledgeable (knowledgeable of the historic culture required to maintain the West in a politically “free” situation) people with good analytical skills will eventually generate a backlash.

    I would therefore say that strictly speaking the Jews are the colonizers, and the people they are importing to N. America and Europe are tools of their colonization, not themselves colonizers per se.

    This third group of people are brought over by simple economic enticements not by any grand historical plan. Even with the Muslims in Europe, the original groups coming in did so for simple, direct economic means, and the suggestion of their conducting demographic domination for political ends is basically an historical afterthought, not part of an organized, initiatory colonial strategy.”

    • Fourmyle of Ceres
      Posted March 14, 2013 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

      Let me summarize me’s excellent post in one phrase.

      Yes, there is colonization going on, but WE are the ones being colonized, and damn successfully, too.

      That is another excellent reason why you should contribute to counter-currents,. each and every month. Today would be fine. Tomorrow might be to late.

    • Posted March 15, 2013 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      “Rather, they are using a third parties of relatively ignorant and by-and-large low-IQ people, imported en masse, to reduce the chance that a large group of culturally knowledgeable (knowledgeable of the historic culture required to maintain the West in a politically “free” situation) people with good analytical skills will eventually generate a backlash”

      You can clearly see this in NYC. NYCers are supposed to be slender and smart, right? So why ban sugary drinks? Because no one can acknowledge that the city has been filled with low-IQ types. They not only displace sensible Whites, but create the very conditions of chaos that “justify” Bloomberg types from taking control of everyone’s life.

      This is the hidden link btw Bloomie’s “liberal” ideas [gun control, sugar ban] and “fascist” ideas [stop and frisk, school choice, etc.] What ties it together is: White liberals feel the need to be protected, but can’t name the enemy [that would be ‘racist’] so they support such policies that seem to insulate them from Them. They pretend to be afraid of guntoting rednecks, but really it’s gun toting Puerto Ricans.

      Needless to say, the Judaic is more than happy to “take charge” given their known “expertise” as middlemen (technically White but not rednecks, so Negroes etc. will accept them as honest brokers).

      hat tip to Steve Sailer, of course.

  6. Posted March 15, 2013 at 12:09 am | Permalink

    Somebody should write an essay on Robert Heinlein’s racial time travel story, “Farnham’s Freehold.” Maybe I’ll get to it one of these days.

  7. White Republican
    Posted March 15, 2013 at 4:15 am | Permalink

    L. P. Hartley’s dystopian novel Facial Justice (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1960) sounds like it deserves a review at Counter-Currents, judging from what I’ve read about it in Helmut Schoeck’s Envy: A Theory of Social Behaviour (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1987) and elsewhere. Murray Rothbard wrote of it:

    “In his work, Facial Justice, published in 1960, Hartley, extrapolating from the attitudes he saw in British life after World War II, opens by noting that after the Third World War, ‘Justice had made great strides.’ Economic Justice, Social Justice and other forms of justice had been achieved, but there were still areas of life to conquer. In particular, Facial Justice had not yet been attained, since pretty girls had an unfair advantage over ugly ones. Hence, under the direction of the Ministry of Face Equality, all Alpha (pretty) girls and all Gamma (ugly) girls were forced to undergo operations at the ‘Equalization (Faces) Centre’ so as all to attain Beta (pleasantly average) faces.”

    Perhaps Alex Kurtagic would be the best person to review this novel.

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