Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Volume 31, No. 25. October 8, 1968
M. K. Joseph's new novel The Hole in the Zero is probably the first serious attempt at science fiction in New Zealand. It is not a good attempt. Science fiction is generally used for serious allegorical purposes. This is rarely done successfully. Joseph has an unfortunate heavy touch in his prose and although this book is far removed in subject matter from A Pound of Saffron much of the same awkwardness remains.
This heavy handedness is shared by Wyndham Lewis, one of the most important modern science fiction writers. Like Lewis's trilogy, Joseph's novel tends to become rather boring, replacing characters with philosophical ideas and problems and allowing the ideas to manipulate the rather eatureless characters and plot.
Joseph attempts something no less ambitious than Lewis; that is to destroy the element of time. But he also destroys any interest we may have had in the characters.
Undoubtedly the book is well written and full of intellectual attributes. Several reviewers have drawn attention to Joseph's diverse vocabulary and supposed source material, such as German fables and philosophical concepts. Indeed, as in A Pound of Saffron which was over-stuffed with every likely human problem, Joseph's undoubted intelligence is in evidence. But this is no substitute for what could have been a fascinating book but failing because of its dead, rather turgid, prose and colourless fantasy.
Joseph has been slightly too ambitious in believing he can weild the unweildy and fuse together a basic adventure story and a mvthical intellectual allegory.
M. K. Joseph: The Hole In The Zero. Blackwood and Janet Paul, Auckland, 1967. $2.25. Reviewed by Jan Walker.