The Husband knows all too well that the words ‘science fiction’ and ‘fantasy’ are like a like a death knell for me. Nothing fills me with greater dread than stories set in a different world or in the future. Something in me dies a little when asked to make a leap into a story about inter-planetary or dimensional travel. Imagine his surprise then, when as a holiday read, I pick up Dark Matter by Blake Crouch.
Many years ago The Husband decided to get rid of our cable package, favoring instead a mix of Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu. I was remarkably displeased with the money saving plan, arguing along the way that it would never allow us the opportunity to chance upon something that we wouldn’t normally have watched. It’s amazing looking back now on how much things have changed and just how right he was. In fact it was via Hulu that I came across Blake Crouch and the adaptation of Wayward Pines. I think in truth I engaged with it because it starred Matt Dillon, but there was no denying that I really enjoyed the show.
Dark Matter is a very accessible read if you, like me, really struggle with novels within the sci-fi genre. It is also helped greatly being a very touching love story about a husband and a wife and their appreciation of each other and their family. Yes, there’s a lot of science in it, but Crouch is able to make it all very comprehensible to the novice. Having a degree in ancient history, I already knew about the concept of the mutliverse (although I concede that I wouldn’t have known the word!) and how at every turning point in our life an alternate choice is also made, which is to be carried out in an alternate universe. For some it’s a comforting concept, ensuring that no matter how much you might mess up existence, somewhere else, you are getting it right.
In Crouch’s novel Jason Dessen is a college lecturer, living a relatively comfortable life. He is a man who has definitely made compromises along the way, but he is essentially happy with the way his life has turned out. Certainly, like many of us, there are things that he would have changed, but equally there are no big complaints. Imagine then his surprise when, one night, he is kidnapped whilst making his way home. When Jason regains his consciousness he is still Jason, just a different, vastly more successful version of himself.
This is a novel that begs the question, what would you do? Would you go along with the new improved version of yourself, even if some key components of your life have vanished, or would you try to make your way back to where you came from. I really just drank this novel down. It was so different to what I read normally and yet so interesting and engaging that it was almost enough to have me reaching for other sci-fi reads. The Husband read it straight after me and agreed that it was a great read and so now, The Son has picked it up to, desperate to find out what all the fuss is about and what a multiverse actually is.
If you are looking for something different, I would suggest that this might be it.