This is going to sound presumptuous but unless another author pulls out something very special, The Measurements of Decay could end up becoming the finest science fiction novel of 2018. Even better, this is genuine science fiction. It’s dense and fascinating and it says a lot - maybe too much - about what’s happening in our world right now, where technology is already having a damning effect on our ability to properly communicate and where, thanks to the innovations of VR and our collective need to turn off reality and withdraw to a place where we (incorrectly) believe we are going to be safer and have more control, we are willingly losing our connection to everything that really matters.
In the distant future, Tikan Solstafir lives in self-imposed exile. The star systems close to Earth have been colonised but, rather than embracing the adventure, people have chosen to withdraw into their own hallucinations. Meanwhile, in the 21st Century, a disillusioned philosopher sets out on a quest to save humanity from itself and a young time-travelling girl called Sielle may hold the key to everything… especially after a mysterious enemy attacks Tikan’s starship, and Tikan strikes back to end the tyranny and sever the dream-state that has enslaved humanity.
I’ve tried to stay as close to the publisher’s blurb as possible during this synopsis because this is a story you should immerse yourself in with as few clues as possible. And, make no mistake about it, there’s a lot of story to enjoy here although it’s the philosophical questions underpinning this fascinating multi-narrative which really lift The Measurements of Decay into the upper echelons. This is a book about deep ideas - both intellectual and emotional - but K. K. Edin is a writer who knows how to balance those ideas and give them room to breathe while never losing sight of a compelling plotline. This is intricate work that rewards the reader’s patience. Edin also isn’t afraid to lead with a narrator whom many readers, myself included, will find quite difficult to get along with although, looked at another way, this only adds to the meta-ness that makes the novel so special. And yes, it is possible to get intellectually heavy, spin a great SF yarn and occasionally put a smile on the reader’s face too (although most of the humour is reserved for the opening chapters… when The Measurements of Decay goes dark, it takes us to a place that is ultimately rewarding but initially very hard to stomach).
Have you ever approached a novel with trepidation, and then finished it feeling so excited you immediately want to read it again and then tell all your friends to buy their own copies because they really can’t miss this but you’re not going to loan your precious copy out to anyone?! Well, that’s the feeling this reviewer was left with after gobbling up The Measurements of Decay. It’s storytelling that makes you look at the world through different eyes, and then you realise that the different eyes are yours and the world was never the place you thought you were living in. Let’s hope it never becomes the place depicted in The Measurements of Decay. Brilliantly mind-bending, in a brain-leaking-through-your-ears kind of way…
THE MEASUREMENTS OF DECAY / AUTHOR: K. K. EDIN / PUBLISHER: METEMPSY PUBLICATIONS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW