“The Death of Definitivity” by Inch Distant

The normal format for the first few pages of a novel is to create an interesting setting and characters to attract the reader, and quite quickly move into the conflict, because that is what draws our attention the most.

If the writing is sufficiently entertaining and creative, this rule can be stretched, but it puts unfair pressure on the quality of the writing to come through. “Definitivity” falls prey to this flaw. The jest that starts the book is great, but it goes on far past the point of satiation. Most readers will put the book down before getting through it. I urge you not to. Finally, around page 50, the conflict starts, and we get characters having dialogue.

The regular narrative is well-written, and it is mostly possible to understand what is going on. The style is intended to mimic scientific writing, given veracity by skillfully coining of new scientific-sounding words. Unfortunately, there is frequent use of passive voice and rather too much explaining ideas rather than showing their effects through the actions of the characters.  The material is not straightforward narration, but a blend of media, including letters, inner dialogues, narrations, social media posts and something that approaches poetry. One passage that stands out is an inside-the-head experience of death in slow motion.

The vocabulary aims this book towards the well-educated. Sentences like, “…however, this incentivized subordinance would’ve been insufficient for a plan of such grandiosity,” are common.

The thematic material involves many recent scientific and pseudo-scientific concepts such as the development of AI, mechanization, and interesting discussion of whether humans have free will.

Despite the gravity of the thematic material, the general treatment is a lighthearted breeziness that borders on quirky comedy but rarely reaches actual humour.

This book is recommended for a fairly narrow readership: those conversant with modern media and looking for interesting and philosophical entertainment. I can’t give it a rating of less than four. After all, Inch Distant might turn out to be a 21st-century James Joyce, and then where would I be?

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

About the Author: Gordon Long

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