The Finite: Kit Power
Reviewed By Philip Rogers
- Paperback: 164 pages
- Publisher: Black Shuck Books (13 July 2019)
“The Finite started as a dream; an image, really, on the edge of waking. My daughter and I, joining a stream of people walking past our house. We were marching together, and I saw that many of those behind us were sick, and struggling, and then I looked to the horizon and saw the mushroom cloud. I remember a wave of perfect horror and despair washing over me; the sure and certain knowledge that our march was doomed, as were we.
The image didn’t make it into the story, but the feeling did. King instructs us to write about what scares us. In The Finite, I wrote about the worst thing I can imagine; my own childhood nightmare, resurrected and visited on my kid.” – Kit Power
A nuclear warhead has hit and from the angle of the explosion it can be assumed that the intended target was London, but as expected the impact from the blast has spread out further. Rob is at home with his 5-year-old daughter Charley. They are far enough away from the full impact of the explosion, but with the radiation of the blast the damage is already done. With the world as you know it ended and the knowledge death is only a matter of time… what do you do?
The Finite is a powerful and often emotional story which deals with the after-effects of a father and daughter following a nuclear attack. The narrative itself is told from the perspective of Rob who as the book explains is diarising the events in the current tense, to enable the reader to feel the events as they are happening, rather than a reflection of something past. With the power gone Rob uses the remaining battery on the laptop to type a detailed recollection of events, before switching to a Dictaphone to record the remaining entries verbally.
In some ways the diarised recording of events, albeit in a modern electronic style is reminiscent of Anne Franks Diary. Only this time their biggest fear is not waiting for someone to find and take them away, their inevitable fate is already concluded and now it is a matter of waiting for it to happen.
Robs written entries are extremely descriptive as he reflects back on the day’s events, but he also uses the diary entries as a way to vent his emotions, uncovering a very personal insight into the character. Which highlights both his flaws and his constant struggles with his own personal issues and insecurities. This sees him frequently reminiscing about his partner who was away from home at the time of the explosion, which leaves him expressing a sorrow at his absence and at times a resentment.
With the Dictaphone recordings, it creates a slightly different feel to the delivery of the story. With a less descriptive entry it increases in the pace of the story and in addition to the diary recording there is a transcription of the conversations between Rob and Charley. This includes a description of any additional noises which are picked up by the mic. Surprisingly with the words used changing the tone throughout, you can still tell the emotions of the characters by what they are saying.
Writer Kit Powers dedicated the book to his daughter who is part of the inspiration for the story and you can see how his own relationship is incorporated into the book. The relationship between Rob and Charley is one of the strengths of the story, especially with the detail in which it describes both the frustrations and uncertainties against an unwavering affection.
Despite the overarching bleak outset of the story, the story never feels lost in the desolation of the situation. This is partly due to the natural sense of self-preservation which keeps Rob going both for him and Charley, giving you a sense of hope that they might somehow survive. However, with Rob fully aware of their impending demise the relationship between him and Charley is often touching. Especially when Rob continues to try and maintain a sense of normality despite the monumental impact which surrounds them following the explosion. Yet sometimes it is the simplest gestures against adversity that can really make you smile.
There are several other characters who are introduced in the book which is where the story builds on some of the tenser drawn out moments, where each encounter is met with a justified paranoia and cautious uncertainty. After all who knows what others will do to survive? A scene in which Rob is awoken by the noise of someone walking outside works particularly well to create an intense ‘hold your breath’ moment, where you are unsure how it is going to unfold.
The Finite is an effective and often moving drama that kept me captivated by the characters from the start. It initially feels as though it was going to be a straightforward claustrophobic story with the events contained, but as the story gradually opened up it constantly left me guessing as to how the story was going unfold. The stylisation of the diarised events both written and verbal really works to create something different and adding an unusual sense of realism to the events. As the story comes to its conclusion it leaves you wanting more, but that is credit to Kit whose writing continued to draw you in. As a novella it is the perfect book to read in one sitting and that once you start you won’t be able to put down.
“The Finite started as a dream; an image, really, on the edge of waking.
My daughter and I, joining a stream of people walking past our house.
We were marching together, and I saw that many of those behind us were sick, and struggling, and then I looked to the horizon and saw the mushroom cloud.
I remember a wave of perfect horror and despair washing over me; the sure and certain knowledge that our march was doomed, as were we.
The image didn’t make it into the story, but the feeling did.
King instructs us to write about what scares us.
In The Finite, I wrote about the worst thing I can imagine; my own childhood nightmare, resurrected and visited on my kid.” – Kit Power
Philip Rogers is a horror journalist who is known for his reviews, interviews and media coverage of anything horror. An avid supporter of independent projects including; films, books, theatre, live events and aways on the lookout for something different to cover.