Dark Matter Matters

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Black Crouch’s Dark Matter is a tale of “what if” told in grand fashion and with science as the star — what if you had made different choices in life; gone to a different school, chose a different career, fallen in love with a different person?

Dark Matter uses quantum physics to answer the question of what would it be like to live another life. It focuses on a physicist who chose to marry the woman he loves over a career that could have redefined science. But this is only one reality…

Crouch knows how to set up a mystery and focus on what matters. This story could have been derivative of a Christmas Carol or It’s a Wonderful Life, but it puts science front in center to drive a tale that takes the reader through a truly mind-bending experience.

Spoilers:

What does experiencing the multiverse do to one’s psyche? What lengths would shadowy government agencies go to in order to possess the key to traverse multiple realities? How could you control such a technology? All this and more are answered in this science thriller.

Jason Dessen has his life stolen and when he realizes he’s not in his world, he can’t accept this new reality he’s been booted to.

It’s one thing to be lost in a world that’s not your own. Another thing entirely to know you’ve been replaced in yours.

Fake Jason, who went on to figure out how to travel to another reality by unlocking the secret of quantum physics, puts real Jason into his world where FJ’s government coworkers haven’t seen him in about 14 months. Real Jason trusts his instincts not to reveal that they have the wrong guy and he tries to piece together if he’s going crazy. Fake Jason gets the wife he always wanted and has little concern that anything will disrupt this new life.

The thrill-a-minute spectacle kicks off when real Jason escapes in the quantum box into the multiverse with his very own Doctor Who companion, lab mate Amanda, as he tries to get home.

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.
Amanda looks at me.
Einstein’s words, not mine.

It’s near impossible to find the grain of sand that represents your world on the beach of the multiverse, but Jason finally figures out to get home you have to think of the world you want. This revelation comes courtesy of Amanda who is thinking of a whiteout snowstorm from childhood and they end up in one when they exit the box. And they almost die that world in sub zero temperatures. A hail mary in the form of a compass that points toward the magnetically charged box helps them find it and uncover it in snow that accumulated over night. They are almost doomed several times and just thinking of your home doesn’t necessarily get you there. You have to be perfectly emotionally in sync with your intentions and feelings.

It’s a troubling paradox — I have total control, but only to the extent I have control over myself.
My emotions.
My inner storm.
The secret engines that drive me.

With little time and quantum juice left, Jason makes the leap home. It gets crazy when other versions of him, who made different destination choices in the box, start showing up and all of them technically have a claim to their wife Daniella. It gets funny scary because all the Jasons know what each other will do so it’s a stalemate. The sole reason chaos doesn’t break out between the Jasons — who are willing to kill each other — is that they don’t want Daniella and Charlie caught in the crossfire. Real Jason tries to think of something he would never do and ends up pulling a funny stunt of smoking in a restaurant and refusing to quit when a cop asks. He ends up in jail and Daniella and him end up together and they flee with Charlie to a cabin north of Chicago. Charlie goofs big time to call a girl and they are tracked down. In a bloody confrontation, fake Jason dies in the cabin and real Jason takes his family to the quantum box in his world so they can escape the others. Many of his doppelgangers are already at the box, but while many are desparate, others are rational, and the family is allowed to pass. To avoid from being followed by a disgruntled double, Jason tells Charlie he’ll be choosing what world they go to live in. The end.

We’re so clearly at the end. Everything we have built — our house, our jobs, our friends, our collective life — all gone. We have nothing left but one another, and yet, in this moment, I’m happier than I’ve ever been.

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