Hammond Flux, Life After Flesh is not, properly defined, “science fiction” although the bulk of the story feels as though it is and certainly upholds that genre's highest ideals. In reality, the novel is literary fiction recounting the delusion of a man who has undergone, and is still operating under the effects of, a classic stress-induced psychotic breakdown. Even in the effect of obscuring its own genre, this novel is true to its agenda of compulsive deception driven by the emotional crisis of the main character, Hammond Hinkley, who suffers from anxiety and guilt stemming from career-related disappointment, unfaithful lust for a young coworker, revulsion towards his own infant child, and a host of lesser emotional conflicts, myriad threads which are masterfully woven into a grand tapestry in a mind-boggling display of talent by debut author Alan Killip.
Legitimate scientific terminology and theory is blended seamlessly with the absurd dream-time jargon of Hammond Hinkley’s pseudo-scientific logic to create an elaborate psychological construct arising from the conflicts in his emotional life, a construct which engulfs the reader as Hammond populates his alternate reality with characters which are enhanced and mutilated aspects of his own personality, portrayed with such consistent attention to detail that they become real, eclipsing the mundane human counterparts from which they were fabricated.
The sheer energy impelling this story is staggering and simulates the authoritarian impulses of the deeply disturbed and not-quite-reliable narrator, driving the reader through force of insane ambition into a terrifying inner hyper-reality which is strangely compelling, a fascistic super-world of blazing sensual input and addictive power. The scale of this inner world and the enormity of the mission devised by Hammond’s alter-egos is completely consuming, hurtling them towards an apocalyptic tipping-point which results in Hammond’s utter psychological collapse and an inevitable anti-climax as Hammond finds himself at the end of the novel being forced to come to terms with the nature of reality and his part in, and responsibility for, his own imperfect life.
This novel is almost frightening in its effectiveness and focus, all the more so considering its casual storytelling technique, its seemingly haphazard cadence, and its DeLillo-esque humor and sense of timing – a brilliant structural choice which operates to relieve the oppressive presence of the modern social ills which Killip is relentless in confronting.
As of today, this novel has only two Amazon reviews to its credit (three in a few minutes), and only a handful of GoodReads reviews, a miscarriage of justice by anyone’s standards, and one that you yourself have the power to rectify by posting a review and spreading word of this formidable new literary talent.