Mark Lawrence's Reviews > Dark Matter

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
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This book, while undoubtedly well written and imaginative, annoyed me on several levels, leading me to not enjoy it nearly as much as I should. It is quite likely not to annoy you in the same way, so don't let me put you off.

The science on display is remarkably similar to that in my own upcoming scifi, though employed to different ends. So expect a small smattering of quantum mechanics.

The book opens with action and drama after a brief scene-setting happy family bit, and even this comes with explicit foreshadowing - "if only I knew this was the last happy day" type of thing.

My first complaint was that I guessed what was happening almost immediately. Our point of view character however takes a very long time to understand and spends a long time bewildered, shocked, and disbelieving. This is perfectly reasonable, but also a chore to read when you just want him to "get it" and then get on with it.

My second complaint was the warm & fuzzy solution to what should have been a very technical navigation problem. I can't see a better story solution but it still felt as if having been presented with a hard science problem we had it solved with a big glop of magic.

My final complaint, which rather spoiled the ending for me, is a spoiler.

(view spoiler)

The answer to my complaints is "but that wouldn't make a very good story". And it is a reasonable answer. I just wasn't able to enjoy a book balanced on a hard science explanation that then slid away into "whatever works for the story".

As I have said before, many others will, and clearly did, have no issue with this. It is a personal bugbear and leaves no stain on a well written, imaginative, and exciting book.


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Reading Progress

March 9, 2019 – Started Reading
March 9, 2019 – Shelved
March 9, 2019 –
page 132
38.6% "In the physics it discusses this book is actually startlingly like my own One Word Kill which is due for publication very soon!"
March 11, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-12 of 12 (12 new)

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message 1: by ben (new) - rated it 2 stars

ben I'm with you on this one. I guessed what was happening almost immediately which kind of takes away from the main draw of the book imo


Kristian Dobson I have a difficult relationship with this author. On one hand, I enjoyed this book (and some of his others) despite them being the novel equivalent of a silly blockbuster film. That being said, his writing style frustrates me to no end and I have no idea why no one ever mentions it. His stilted, extremely short sentences, and almost zero description is mind-numbing to read.
And now my brain hurts thinking about it again.


Jeroen Moons Just thought of this now, but if there's an infinite number of Daniellas to go back to and there's an infinite number of Jasons going back to one of these Daniellas, might it not be possible that if the story chooses to tell what happened to a single of those Daniellas there might be a finite number of Jasons going back to that one Daniella? Just as there are Daniellas no Jason ever finds his way back to, there are some Daniellas one or more Jasons find their way back to. The book chooses to tell what happened to a Daniella to which a couple hundred Jasons found their way back to.

That being said, I agree the premise of the book was promising but I had serious doubts about the story as well, just making my best guess above :-)

On top of that, to me the dialogue was appalling.


Mark Lawrence Jeroen wrote: "Just thought of this now, but if there's an infinite number of Daniellas to go back to and there's an infinite number of Jasons going back to one of these Daniellas, might it not be possible that i..."

Given that the main character is a physics genius who came up with the necessary theory and invented the machine ... he might have known there were also an infinite number of Daniellas to go back to?

Rather than slaughtering each other the Jasons crowding one Daniella could simply go after another. She is generating an infinity of them every moment.

The statistics are non-trivial, but under the original conceit that there is only one Daniella then there should definitely be an infinity of Jasons on her doorstep, overwhelming the world. And under the simple logic that there are an infinity of Daniellas it is hard to imagine a set up where "hundreds" is in any way a likely number to arrive. My top of my head guess would be a Poisson Distribution with mean close to zero (rather than 1, which would be the mean if getting back was easy).


message 5: by Mary (new) - added it

Mary S. R. It's like you're actually naming all the things I have problems with in sci-fi books *shakes head*
I expect a supposed genius to get it fast, and I also get really annoyed when authors slaughter sensibility in favour of public opinion.
I've been obsessed with quantum mechanics and different implications of it since I was fourteen and have been reading articles and trying to take them apart step by step, but have tried to steer clear of sci-fi books tackling the same subjects bc of exactly that. I take my science seriously. And ugh it annoys me so much to see that a book I've been anticipating to read is riding the tropes like that...
Still, after reading your OWK (which I'm still in awe of) I guess I'll give this a try to see at least how different authors apply quantum mechanics to their stories and, specifically, how they fail. I'm still gonna go into this blank and without judgement, but it's good to know not to expect too much :) great review


Clayton You say "Rather than slaughtering each other the Jasons crowding one Daniella could simply go after another. She is generating an infinity of them every moment."

Surely an infinite number of Jason's did exactly this? The fact that the story we followed was the original Jason trying to get back to his original wife, doesn't mean an infinite number of Jasons didn't go looking for one of the infinite number of Daniellas that generated after he left her?


Jeroen Moons Mark wrote: "Jeroen wrote: "Just thought of this now, but if there's an infinite number of Daniellas to go back to and there's an infinite number of Jasons going back to one of these Daniellas, might it not be ..."

No I get your point. None of the Jasons could even ever pick the 'right' Daniella since there are infinitely many of them, rendering the likelihood of a single of those infinite Daniellas having hundreds of Jasons on her doorstep very small


Mark Lawrence Clayton wrote: "You say "Rather than slaughtering each other the Jasons crowding one Daniella could simply go after another. She is generating an infinity of them every moment."

Surely an infinite number of Jason..."


There is no such thing as his original wife now. That's the whole point of the science espoused in the story. His original wife existed only in the moment he left. Since that moment she has spawned an infinity of Daniellas, none of whom are more or less original than the other, and none of whom have a greater or lesser connection with "our" Jason, who is also a figment suggested by the fact that we saw the decisions taken at a few points along a return journey. In fact all the returning Jasons are as valid as the one we think we have followed.


message 9: by Steven (new)

Steven Van der Werf Nothing in fiction frustrates me more than supposed experts and genius’s completely failing to understand something that should be obvious. It’s just lazy writing.
(I have not read this book)


message 10: by Susie (new) - added it

Susie Your spoiler there just makes me think "Clara".


Peter Loftus Agreed. The way he gets into the action from the start was excellent.


message 12: by Ions (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ions I had the same qualms. The trips to the handful of different realities felt pretty stale with no real stakes. One thing that really irritated me about the end was (main) Jason not keeping his friend (who had no real reason to join him anyway). I felt that if he managed to keep her it would have proven him to be a truer or better jason than all the others who lost theirs in radically different ways. It would have eased up a lot of weird work arounds in that ending if he had a buddy to assist...heck he could have kept her surviving a mystery to even the readers and I woulda been pretty happy.


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