First published back in July of 2019, British author Kit Power’s novella ‘The Finite’ formed the fifth book within the Black Shuck Books ‘Signature Series’ of novellas.

DLS Synopsis:
Robert’s husband - Luke - had been on an overnight training course in London when the bomb went off.  Rob guessed from the direction of the explosion that it had hit London.  Nevertheless, the explosion was powerful enough to shatter the windows of their house, some fifty-miles-away in Milton Keynes. 

It had been the middle of the night, and Rob had their five-year-old daughter in with him.  When the explosion hit, Rob had just enough time to cover Charley with his own body.  The blast burning the back of his legs as the blistering heat washed over them.

Moments later and everything was silent once again.  No noise.  No commotion.  Just silence.

After a short while their neighbour, Peter had come over to check on them.  They’d talked through what remained of the night.  Nothing of any real substance, just filling the silence with words.  Thoughts of what could have happened.  Concerns for what was to come.  The inevitable repercussions.  The lethal fallout.  The illness that was certainly to follow.

And then the sickness came.  It was short lived at first, making Rob and Charley sick.  Vomit and a bellyache and a loss of energy.  The initial sickness didn’t last long and soon enough they were both back to a reasonable health.  Charley wanting to play games, go to the park, go to school.  Rob took to planning what they needed.  How to get by.  Always documenting it all.

Each day, he’d add his next instalment to the diary.  A document he’d been writing ever since the bomb first went off.  Each day telling more of the story, should anyone find it later down the line.  Typing out their struggles.  The difficulties he and Charley faced each day and the terrible decisions that had to be made.

This is his story.  This is a record of what happened…

DLS Review:
I swear half the joy of reading Kit Power’s work is in the writing rather than the actual story.  His prose is so damn captivating.  The characters and the narrating voice, it just carries you along with an effortless allure.  The story is written in the present tense, through our narrator and principal protagonist – Robert Andrews – as he attempts to record what happened to him and his daughter, following a nuclear warhead going off in London.

In essence what we have with ‘The Finite’ is a sort of British ‘The Road’ (2006).  Although there’s a lot less trekking along postapocalyptic roadways and hiding from cannibalistic nutters, and more hiding out in the garage and popping to the local park when no one seems to be about.

You see, this piece of quiet apocalyptic fiction is purposefully written to be fundamentally British.  Furthermore, it pitches its tent firmly in the realms of plausible reality.  It’s not swish and Hollywood and punching out far-fetched action sequences endured by heroic protagonists with their chiselled jawlines.  In almost every way this is the opposite of such.  Instead it reads like what could really happen should a warhead go off in a nearby city.  A down-to-earth vision of what, if the cards fall badly for us, we could very well face one day.

Aside from how breathtakingly believable this is, there’s a few things that make this worryingly realistic story the triumph that it is.  The first gold-plated strength is with the characters.  There’s literally a handful of them in the entire story.  We’re talking Rob and his five-year-old daughter Charley, plus their elderly neighbours, and that’s about it, other than the odd fleeting visit from a stranger.  But with these few characters, Power has focused all his energy into making them real.  Fleshing them out and giving them their own individual lives in the bigger picture of this localised end-of-their-world catastrophe.

Like with McCarthy’s ‘The Road’ (2006), Power’s story is pretty much about the relationship and plight of two individuals – father and (here) daughter.  Rob, our principal protagonist and narrator, is also trying to come to terms with the undoubted loss of his husband, Luke.  Having our protagonist as a gay father, isn’t made into a big deal.  It’s refreshing in its outwardly everyday acceptance of such a lifestyle.  Yeah, of course the gay aspect has a few mentions, but nothing overly dominating to the plot.  And this in itself, the normality of this, compliments and captivates the overarching close-to-home feel of the tale.

Lastly, what really works in the tale was the utter honesty of it.  There’s no smoke and mirrors illusion of a world that somehow rights itself overnight.  No knight in shining armour, sweeping them up and taking them off to a safe haven where a bunch of cosy catastrophe survivors plant vegetables and sing around a campfire at night.  No, this vision is bare bones honesty.  It’s not bubbling pustules and melting skin from fifty odd miles away.  Instead it’s got its feet firmly on terra firma with what seems an entirely believable reality of the effects of fallout from such a distance away.  And its fucking chilling.

Admittedly there’s a lot in this book that has been explored before.  Yeah, it’s not exactly a shiny new concept.  Numerous authors have painted their own picture of such events happening.  People hiding away in their homes, their garages, their hideouts and bomb shelters, as the shit hits the proverbial fan outside.  The human element has also been scrutinised, pulled apart and brought into sharp focus.  But I don’t believe Power ever had the intention of delivering a breathtakingly original concept with ‘The Finite’.  No, what we have here is the creative output of a very personal nightmare of his.  A window into Power’s mind as he lays down one of his greatest fears.  And then we’re back to that honesty point again.  Realism and honesty.  Kit-mother-fucking-Power.

The novella runs for a total of 161 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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