Study Guide

Dark Matter

By Blake Crouch

Dark Matter Introduction

If Dark Matter can be believed, there are an infinite number of Shmoops out there. In one universe, Shmoop is the friendly helpful academic we all know and love. In another, Shmoop has created a college university where we teach all of you lovely people. In yet another, Shmoop is the largest social network on the face of the planet.

Hey, a website can dream, can't it?

As farfetched as it may sound, there's an actual scientific theory behind all of this, and Blake Crouch walks us through it in Dark Matter. The novel is about something known as the "many-worlds interpretation" of quantum physics. To make a long story short, this theory says that there are an infinite number of parallel universes out there—and more are being created every instant.

Sounds like abstract stuff, but it's very real for our hero, Jason Dessen. A former experimental physicist, Jason's entire world is stolen from him after he's kidnapped by a doppelgänger from a parallel universe and then marooned in a distant dimension, left to fend for himself. Desperate to reunite with his family, Jason traverses the multiverse in order to return home and retake what is rightfully his.

We know—sounds like a lot to deal with. Fortunately, Dark Matter is much more concerned with the human experience than it is with scientific jargon. So don't expect complex explanations and abstract theorems. Instead, the novel focuses on how this scientific concept affects the choices we make in our lives, our regrets about the past, and our visions of the future.

And that's not even getting into the tense action scenes, multidimensional hijinks, and overall insanity. Far from being a dry dissertation on quantum physics, Dark Matter takes high-falutin' ideas and makes them just falutin' enough for non-experts like ourselves.

What is Dark Matter About and Why Should I Care?

We'll be real: we're not too concerned whether you care about Dark Matter or not.

That's because we know there's a parallel universe out there where it's the only thing on your mind.

Score one for quantum physics.

Of course, quantum physics isn't the only thing going on in this novel, as important as it is. But we'd argue that scientific theory takes a backseat to the human stories we enjoy along the way.

The most relatable aspect of these stories is the deep feeling of regret many of the characters grapple with. Jason regrets not living up to his potential as a research scientist. Daniela regrets focusing so much on her family that she lost sight of her art career. And so on and so forth. We actually mean that literally, as there are an infinite number of versions of these characters to consider. We're getting tired just thinking about it.

Although you might not be able to deal with your regrets in the same way Daniela and Jason do—unless you have a spare sensory-deprivation box lying around—that doesn't mean you can't learn from their struggles. From Jason, you can learn that life is never an either-or proposition between great success and horrible failure. From Daniela, you can learn that even if you achieve your dreams, doubts and regrets will always weasel their way in.

As Dark Matter shows us, everyone has regrets in their lives. The important thing is how you deal with them.

Dark Matter Resources

Websites

The Institute of Physics
Want to know as much about physics as Jason Dessen does? Click away.

Blake Crouch's Homepage
Welcome to your one-stop shop for all things Crouch.

Movie or TV Productions

Dark Matter
This film will give you your daily recommended amount of interdimensional travel—and then some.

Articles and Interviews

Barnes & Noble Interviews Blake Crouch
B&N doesn't just sell books; they also interview authors. Get with the program.

Five Practical Uses for "Spooky" Quantum Mechanics
If one of them is not cheating on your hubby with a parallel-universe version of your hubby, then that's a real waste. Er, wait…

Video

Blake Crouch Speaks
Check out this video for some awesome insight into Crouch's writing process.

Get the Quantum Low-Down
Ready to get serious? Sit in on this quantum mechanics course from Stanford.

Audio

NPR Interviews Blake Crouch
Crouch dishes about his personal obsession with alternate realities.

The Spookiness of Quantum Mechanics
Why does everyone call quantum mechanics spooky? Did we miss a memo?

Images

Schrödinger's Cat
Check out this image if you're still confused about the concept of Schrödinger's cat.

Hydrogen Wave Function
This is supposed to explain quantum mechanics in some way but—uh—your guess is as good as ours.