2005 edition cover for The Prestige
The Prestige is a 1995 novel by British writer Christopher Priest. The novel is epistolary in structure: that is, it purports to be a collection of real diaries that were kept by the protagonists and later collated. The title derives from the novel's fictional practice of stage illusions having three parts: the setup, the performance, and the prestige (effect).
The events of the past are revealed primarily through the diaries of magicians Rupert Angier and Alfred Borden. The diaries are read by their grandchildren and chapters of present day are interspersed throughout the novel. The two fledgling magicians begin a feud when Borden breaks up a fake seance being put on by Angier and his wife for one of Borden's relatives. During the scuffle, Angier's wife is thrown to the ground and results in a miscarriage. The two magicians begin to go back and forth for many years as they rise to become world-renowned stage magicians.
Borden develops a teleportation act called The Transported Man, and an improved version named The New Transported Man, which appears to move him from one closed cabinet to another in the blink of an eye without appearing to pass through the intervening space. The act seems to defy physics and puts all previous acts to shame. Over the course of the diaries we learn Alfred Borden is the name used by identical twin brothers, Albert and Frederick. Both men are living the life of Alfred, committed to maintaining their secret to ensure their professional success with The New Transported Man. Angier suspects that Borden uses a double, but dismisses the idea when he cannot find evidence to prove it.
Unable to discern the method that Borden uses, Angier desperately tries to equal him, and with the help of the acclaimed physicist Nikola Tesla, develops an act named In A Flash, which has a similar result, though a starkly different method. For Angier's trick, Tesla successfully creates a device capable of teleporting a being from one place to another, but which has a surprising side-effect. As well as recreating the subject wherever is designed by the device, the original, now lifeless, body of the subject is also left behind in its original position, forcing Angier to devise a way to conceal it to preserve the illusion. Angier, with bitter humour refers to these shells as 'prestiges'.
Angier's new act is equal to Borden's. Borden, in retaliation, attempts to discover how In A Flash is performed. During one performance he breaks into the backstage area and turns off the power to Angier's device during the act itself. As a result, the teleportation is incomplete, and both the new Angier and the old, 'prestige' Angier continue to live, though the old feels constantly weak while the new seems to lack physical substance. The real Angier[clarification needed] fakes the death[clarification needed] of his magic act alter-ego and returns to his family estate, where he becomes terminally ill.
The clone Angier, alienated from the world by his ghostly form and discovering Borden's secret, attacks one of the twins before a performance. However, Borden's apparent poor health and Angier's sense of morality intervene and Angier does not go through with the murder. It is implied that this particular Borden dies a few days later, and the incorporeal Angier travels to meet the corporeal Angier, now living as Lord Colderdale. They obtain Borden's diary and publish it without revealing the twins' secret. Shortly afterwards, the corporeal Angier dies and his ghostly clone uses the device to teleport himself into the body, hoping that either he will return it back to life and be one person again, or kill himself instantly. It is revealed in the final chapter that some form of Angier has continued to survive to the present day.
Awards and nominations 
- British Fantasy Award nominee, 1995
- James Tait Black Memorial Prize winner, 1996
- World Fantasy Award winner, 1996
- Arthur C. Clarke Award nominee, 1996
2006 film adaptation 
A motion picture adaptation, directed by Christopher Nolan, was released on October 20, 2006 in the United States It stars Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman as Borden and Angier respectively, as well as Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson and David Bowie. The novel was adapted by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan.
See also 
References and notes