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Dark Matter ()

"Anyone not shocked by quantum mechanics has not understood it." -Neils Bohr
Dark Matter is about a guy named Jason Dessen. Jason is a brilliant physicist living in Chicago with his wife Daniela and his son Charlie. He’s a true genius, and while there was a point in his late-20s when his research could have made him a star in his field, he instead chose a family-focused life. One night, while walking home, he’s abducted and injected with a strange drug. When he awakes, his world has completely changed. He’s no longer married, doesn’t have a son, and has achieved professional success beyond his wildest dreams. This sets him on a thrilling, mysterious, and sometimes terrifying journey to find out what has happened to him — one that, in very scary and concrete ways, forces him and the reader to reckon with the quantum-mechanics principles that make our universe tick.

Quantum mechanics sounds abstract and science-fiction-y and intimidating, I know. But I promise — I wrote Dark Matter so if you’d never heard of quantum mechanics, it wouldn’t matter. And while the behavior of subatomic particles seems far removed from our day-to-day lives, when you scale the ramifications of quantum mechanics up to the macro world, to our world, things actually do get very interesting and very strange, very quickly.
    -ESSAY: The Story Behind 'Dark Matter' (Blake Crouch, July 18, 2016, Powell's Books Blog)
Just before the injection Mr. Crouch describes above, Jason Dessen's attacker asks, “Are you happy with your life?” When Dessen wakes up he is confronted with the notion that the life he blacked out in is just one of a multitude that some version of himself is living. The smallest deviations from the decisions and actions of his life has spun off into alternate paths breeding a multiverse of other Jason Dessens. And now, all the Jasons who were happy with that life want to get back to it and are willing to fight him for the right to be one living it.

Mr. Crouch has acknowledged his debt to Michael Crichton and crafted a high concept thriller worthy of the master but very much his own. He keeps the action breakneck enough to keep the reader from pondering verisimilitude much and is helped greatly by the fact that quantum physics is so weird to begin with that we can hardly critique his version coherently. At any rate, you're not likely to have questions niggle at the back of your brain until you're a couple hundred pages in and that's probably on a couple hours into the edge-of-you-seat read. It's entirely too enjoyable a ride to demand precision and if it does get you turning over the ideas involved in your own mind that's just a bonus.


Grade: (A-)


Blake Crouch Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: Blake Crouch
    -AUTHOR TWITTER: @blackcrouch1
    -BOOK SITE: Dark Matter (Penguin Random House)
    -ESSAY: The Story Behind 'Dark Matter' (Blake Crouch, July 18, 2016, Powell's Books Blog)
    -INTERVIEW: Interview with Blake Crouch, author of Dark Matter: The author of this mind-bending thriller discusses quantum mechanics, Chicago, and the sci-fi he's reading right now. (Abbe Wright, Read it Forward)
RIF: The quote “Are you happy with your life?” is the last thing your main character Jason hears before his masked abductor wipes him out. What are you exploring through Jason about the concept of what makes us happy?

BC: Jason has this really good life. He isn’t wildly happy. He’s not sad. I think he’s just medium, like most of us. But he has these regrets, and occasionally at night, lying in the dark, he thinks, well, what if I had stuck with my research; what if I had taken a different turn in my life? I think it’s something that we all wrestle with. I’m 37 years old, and I definitely am reaching this point in my life where I’ve lived enough years that you see the choices you made a long time ago are really coming to fruition now—some great, some not so great. And Jason and his journey seemed like the right vehicle for me to explore those questions. What does life look like at the end of the road not taken?

RIF: There’s a contrast that you’re making between being so career-crazed that you ignore personal relationships and choosing a path where you might not be considered a rock star in your field, but you’re more satisfied personally. Is this a statement about our workaholic culture and did you draw anything from your own personal experience?

BC: In retrospect, I guess it is a statement about our workaholic culture. And there’s a bit of therapy of my own in this book. I’ve been on a pretty busy tear for the last few years. I am a father of three, and I often feel the tension between a need to do a million things versus a need to spend time with my kids. And I want to spend time with them! It’s the tension between those two that really put me down the path of this book. It’s so easy to get locked into only thinking about the future and the present just zooms right by, and you never savor those moments.

    -INTERVIEW: Interview with Blake Crouch (Interviewed by Mihir Wanchoo, 11/02/13, Fantasy Book Critic)
    -INTERVIEW: Blake Crouch discusses latest books, Good Behavior, and Dark Matter (Modern Signed Books)
    -INTERVIEW: Blake Crouch Author of DARK MATTER (Interviewed by Michael Valinsky, July 26, 2016, Kirkus)
    -INTERVIEW: Turning Up the Volume from 3 to 10: Talking with Blake Crouch,/a> (Eleanor Roth June 10, 2019, Booklist Reader)
-INTERVIEW: Why Blake Crouch's Netflix-bound Recursion is his most personal (and trippy) novel yet (David Canfield, June 11, 2019, Entertainment Weekly)
    -INTERVIEW: Wayward Pines author Blake Crouch on his wild new sci-fi thriller, Recursion (Jeff Spry, Jun 7, 2019 , SyFy wire)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: A Fast-Paced Thriller That’s a Tour Through the Multiverse (Science Friday, 08/19/2016)
    -INTERVIEW: Manipulating Memory and Time with Author Blake Crouch: We catch up with the writer to talk about his process, his journey, and how he finally finished “Recursion,” the 2019 science fiction novel he says was the toughest book he’s written yet. (Laura Rote November 6th, 2019, 66)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: PODCAST: Q&A with Blake Crouch, author of Recursion (Kiki Sanford, 29 August, 2019, AAAS)
    -INTERVIEW: Durango author Blake Crouch reimagines memory in his latest book, “Recursion” (Amanda Push, DGO)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: Ep. #344 – Interview with Blake Crouch (Jill, June 10, 2019, Professional Book Nerds)
    -ARCHIVES: Blake Crouch (Kirkus)
    -ARCHIVES: Blacke Crouch (Book Reporter)
    -REVIEW: of Dark Matter by Blake Crouch (Jason Sheehan, NPR)
    -REVIEW: of Dark Matter (NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Dark Matter (Alison Flood, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of dark Matter (Danyelle Overbo, Fiction Unbound)
    -REVIEW: of Dark Matter (Kirkus)
    -REVIEW: of Dark Matter (Publishers Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of Dark Matter (Alex McLevy, AV Club)
    -REVIEW: of Dark Matter (Brian Truitt, USA Today)
    -REVIEW: of Dark Matter (Sinead Cummings, PhillyVoice)
    -REVIEW: of Dark Matter (Tom Shippey, WSJ)
    -REVIEW: of dark Matter (Brian Greene, Criminal Matter)
    -REVIEW: of Dark Matter (Gerry Paige Smith, Book Page)
    -REVIEW: of Dark Matter (Madderly Review)
    -REVIEW: of Dark Matter (Jim Basile, The Oklahoman)
    -REVIEW: of Dark Matter (Joe Stinnett, News & Advance)
    -REVIEW: of Dark Matter (CS Monitor)
    -REVIEW: of Dark Matter (FRANCIS MOUL, Lincoln Journal Star)
    -REVIEW: of Dark Matter (Nora Grubb, Chicago Review of Books)
    -REVIEW ARCHIVES: Dark Matter (Book Marks)
    -REVIEW: of Recursion by Blake Crouch (Victor LaVelle, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Recursion (Jason Sheehan, NPR)
    -REVIEW: of Recursion (Leslie Doran, Durango Herald )
    -PODCAST: on Recursion (CNet Book Club)
    -REVIEW: of Recursion (Christopher Shultz, LitReactor)
    -REVIEW: of Recursion (Kirkus)
    -REVIEW: of Recursion (Paul Di Filippo, Locus)
    -REVIEW: of Recursion (Olivia Turner, Loyola Phoenix)
    -REVIEW: of Pines by Blake Crouch (David Steffen, Diabolical Plots)


    -FILMOGRAPHY: Blake Crouch (IMDB)
    -WIKI: Wayward Pines
    -ARTICLE: Dark Matter Movie Updates: Everything We Know About The Adaptation Of Blake Crouch's Book (Kelly West, Cinema Blend)
    -REVIEW: of Wayward Pines (Brian Moylan, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Wayward Pines (NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Wayward Pines (Eric Thurm, wired)
    -REVIEW ARCHIVE: Wayward Pines (Metacritic)

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