Imagine that every decision you make throughout your life creates a new universe: the old one representing the path you actually take, the new universe conforming to the alternate path. Over the years, then, your life branches into innumerable possible universes. So does the life of everyone else on earth — an infinity of possibilities all together. This is the conceit at the heart of Dark Matter, a bestselling science fiction novel about the multiverse by Blake Crouch.

Quantum mechanics and the multiverse

This challenging premise is grounded in quantum mechanics, one of the proudest achievements of 20th-century physics. Albert Einstein’s theories dictate a semblance of order in the real world we observe around us. Quantum mechanics deals with the subatomic world, where Newton’s and Einstein’s rules no longer apply. Defying logic, quantum mechanics posits that an electron can (and does) exist at two widely separated points simultaneously. A line of argument I am hopelessly unable to follow leads to the theory of the multiverse. Crouch, and many science fiction writers before him, extend the argument to imagine that an individual might travel from one universe to a parallel one.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch ★★★★★  

A journey into alternative realities

Jason Dessen is a once-promising atomic physicist who has settled into a happily married life as a physics teacher at a minor college. As he begins to relate his story, he muses: “Standing happy and slightly drunk in my kitchen, I’m unaware that tonight is the end of . . . everything I know, everything I love.” Later that evening, Jason finds himself plunged into a nightmarish journey that challenges everything he has ever known or thought about himself.

Blake Crouch’s gifts as a writer are visible everywhere in this fascinating thriller. His dialogue is crisp, his characters credible and sympathetic, and his command of plotting impressive. Dark Matter is a page-turning thriller. From beginning to end, Crouch engages the reader with a sure hand.

About the author

Dark Matter is the ninth of Blake Crouch‘s novels. He is best known for a mystery trilogy that was developed into a television series, Wayward Pines. Born in 1978, he has only been publishing book-length fiction since 2004.

For further reading

I’ve also edited the author’s Upgrade (Gene editing is a federal crime in this near-future thriller).

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