TotIs by J. Joseph Kazden


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Kazden offers a mind-expanding debut novel about a symposium examining the core concepts of the universe.

Imagine if great minds from across the ages could congregate in one room to discuss their understandings of time and reality. In this ambitious work, Socrates, Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, and Stephen Hawking, among others, come together to do just that. To befit the nature of the symposium as a great Hellenic institution, the author gives each of the characters Greek names. Einstein is called “Miapetra,” meaning “one stone,” Hawking is referred to as “Geraki” or “hawk,” whereas Isaac Newton is “Neatono” or “new ton.” The men meet at Neatono’s house, where they begin a discussion about relativity theory, specifically how the past, present, and future are relative. The author’s use of Socratic questioning proves to be a gentle introduction to complex ideas, particularly for the uninitiated. Yet readers may still benefit from prior knowledge of quantum mechanics to truly grasp this discussion. The explorations of how perceptions of reality vary among individuals are particularly fascinating: “So two individuals of the same species with sensory equipment of unequal quality will experience differently the same reality, to all intents and purposes, would you agree?” The book introduces two new definitions: antIs, “the human observer’s experience of reality and the universe,” and totIs, “which defines a total reality of the universe unavailable to [a] human observer’s created antIs reality.” The arguments are dazzlingly convincing, although there’s a certain arrogance in reanimating the world’s greatest thinkers simply to have them concur with one’s main thesis. However, the book is not without a wry humor—Max Planck talks of switching to a gluten-free diet and Newton speaks of getting his cataracts removed. Purists may contest the probability of each word the author drops into the mouths of these great men, but this controversy is part and parcel of this brilliantly daring piece of work.

A learned, bold journey to the limits of human perception and beyond. 

Pub Date: Aug. 21st, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-5152-0354-4
Page count: 106pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2015


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