CR4 - The Engineer's Place for News and Discussion ®


The CR4 Book Club Blog

The CR4 Book Club

The CR4 Book Club is a forum to discuss fiction and non-fiction books that have science, engineering or technology thematic elements. The club will read and discuss several books a year. All CR4 users are invited to participate. Look out for book announcements and the ensuing discussions that follow, but beware of potential spoilers!

Previous in Blog: Book Review: The Checklist Manifesto   Next in Blog: Next Book- Three Moments of an Explosion
Close
Close
Close
22 comments

Book Club Discussion: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Posted October 31, 2016 12:00 AM by Bayes

CR4 Book Club Discussion:

Dark Matter

by Blake Crouch (2016)

A group of us at IEEE GlobaSpec read Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. We discussed the book and came up with some interesting topics and points about the book. We are now wondering what your thoughts are.

Some things we wondered:

· Is the premise plausible?

· Can you trust the narrator?

· Were there too many versions of Jason?

· Are people more predictable than we think we are?

· Does each decision turn us into someone different than the person we were before the decision?

If you haven’t read the book these questions and the conversation that follows will have a lot of spoilers.

Reply

Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.
Guru
CR4 Admins - CR4 Moderator - CR4 Moderator Technical Fields - Technical Writing - New Member United States - Member - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Crime Alley, Gotham City
Posts: 505
Good Answers: 1
#1

Re: Book Club Discussion: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

10/31/2016 9:41 AM

Yes, I suppose by definition of the word, the premise is plausible. Obviously you need to accept inter-dimensional travel for this, but it's a sci-fi book. In reality, its a bit like Stephen Hawkling's time travel party for me. I think the author did a good job of staying congruent with the natural laws he imposed on his story.

I think the narrator is extremely untrustworthy once he finally finds his home world. All of the duplicated Jasons that exist there are all equally deserving of being there. Just because our protagonist 'won' doesn't make him the main or most deserving Jason. There is also an argument to be made that he's a frequent drug user.

I feel like happiness and family are central themes to the story. All of the Jasons in the home world chose to pursue a family life, when each could more or less choose their own destiny from infinite choices.

I would recommend the book, because it's an original narrative that's mostly unpredictable. It's a book that could be read in a weekend. I found the ending disappointing (very anti-climactic), but that's just my opinion.

__________________
HUSH
Reply
Guru
Engineering Fields - Civil Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: ''but, don't we get PAID to ask questions?...''
Posts: 781
Good Answers: 7
#2
In reply to #1

Re: Book Club Discussion: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

10/31/2016 12:32 PM

It seems like the political rhetoric about both US Presidential candidates is plenty ''dark'' enough for me...

__________________
''illigitimi non carborundum...'' (i.e.: don't let the fatherless ones grind you down...)
Reply
Guru

Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 5074
Good Answers: 483
#3
In reply to #2

Re: Book Club Discussion: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

10/31/2016 1:06 PM

True.

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 5074
Good Answers: 483
#22
In reply to #2

Re: Book Club Discussion: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

11/06/2016 5:40 PM

Actually, reading the book provided a temporary escape from ESD*.

* Election Stress Disorder

http://video.foxnews.com/v/5197114802001/?#sp=show-clips

Reply
The Engineer
Engineering Fields - Engineering Physics - Physics... United States - Member - NY Popular Science - Genetics - Organic Chemistry... Popular Science - Cosmology - New Member Ingeniería en Español - Nuevo Miembro - New Member

Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Albany, New York
Posts: 5013
Good Answers: 126
#4

Re: Book Club Discussion: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

10/31/2016 1:25 PM

I thought this book was pretty interesting. I enjoyed the premise and the story really moves after the first chapter. I think the science behind the book is good enough as long as you don't examine it rigorously. Certainly good enough that it doesn't distract from the story.

Can we trust the narrator? I think with respect to his own motivations,yes. I do, however believe we are getting a skewed view of the other Jasons, which is to be expected given the circumstances. What's remarkable is how different many of the Jasons have become since the initial break from their world. Then again, there have been an infinite number of Jasons created since that break so some extremes are to be expected.

Were there too many versions of Jason? No, probably too little. In truth, if you follow the logic to its natural conclusion, the world should be overrun with Jasons within a few days. I mean millions of Jasons. Even if the odds of Jason making it back there were really small. That's what happens with infinities, no matter how small you make a probability, if you have infinite changes, you get infinite occurrences. This was overlooked or avoided in the book.

Reply
Guru
CR4 Admins - CR4 Moderator - CR4 Moderator Technical Fields - Technical Writing - New Member United States - Member - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Crime Alley, Gotham City
Posts: 505
Good Answers: 1
#6
In reply to #4

Re: Book Club Discussion: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

10/31/2016 3:28 PM

I definitely think that the book avoided the 'too many Jasons' problem a bit too easily. There are a lot of potential plotholes with this mechanic. But there is nothing that prevents a million Jasons from showing back up in the original world after the original Jason has already left with his family.

I think we need to accept that our Jason was one the first Jasons back to his original Chicago. If he isn't part of the first wave of the Jason invasion then I would suspect another Jason would have already approached his family, either isolating them successfully or scaring them beyond belief, either way making his task near impossible.

Jason jason jason, but jason jason? Jason.

__________________
HUSH
Reply
The Engineer
Engineering Fields - Engineering Physics - Physics... United States - Member - NY Popular Science - Genetics - Organic Chemistry... Popular Science - Cosmology - New Member Ingeniería en Español - Nuevo Miembro - New Member

Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Albany, New York
Posts: 5013
Good Answers: 126
#8
In reply to #6

Re: Book Club Discussion: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

11/01/2016 8:40 AM

Yeah, I agree we have to assume that our Jason was just early. To be honest, the thing I found least credible in the whole book was that the Jason who put all of this in motion, the one who built the box and forcibly switched places with our Jason, didn't seem to anticipate all these Jasons coming back.

Even if he assumed that the other Jason would be happy to live his successful life on his world, it would only take one of an infinite Jasons to decide he wants to come back and that Jason would spawn an infinite number of Jasons wanting to come back of which it is safe to assume several of them will make it back. I was surprised he was surprised that happened in the book. It couldn't have turned out any other way.

Talking about this book makes my head hurt.

Reply
Guru
CR4 Admins - CR4 Moderator - CR4 Moderator Technical Fields - Technical Writing - New Member United States - Member - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Crime Alley, Gotham City
Posts: 505
Good Answers: 1
#10
In reply to #8

Re: Book Club Discussion: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

11/01/2016 1:52 PM

I didn't think of that. It's true, he should have had some contingency plan for when they showed up. Or perhaps have moved well beforehand.

Interesting question: can the box be destroyed? Could Jason2 have destroyed the box so Jason1 could never return?

__________________
HUSH
Reply
The Engineer
Engineering Fields - Engineering Physics - Physics... United States - Member - NY Popular Science - Genetics - Organic Chemistry... Popular Science - Cosmology - New Member Ingeniería en Español - Nuevo Miembro - New Member

Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Albany, New York
Posts: 5013
Good Answers: 126
#12
In reply to #10

Re: Book Club Discussion: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

11/01/2016 2:52 PM

I didn't fully get the box. The only explanation I could come up with is Jason brings the box with him wherever he goes, otherwise it doesn't exist in that world. So even if Jason2 destroyed the box, Jason would just show up in another when he arrived. Not very satisfying and I think that theory falls apart if you look at it too carefully.

The only solution for Jason2 that I saw was to take the family and jump to another world with them where they couldn't be found.

Reply
Guru
CR4 Admins - CR4 Moderator - CR4 Moderator United States - Member - New Member Popular Science - Cosmology - New Member Technical Fields - Education - New Member

Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: East Greenbush, NY
Posts: 549
Good Answers: 9
#5

Re: Book Club Discussion: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

10/31/2016 3:04 PM

I agree with HUSH that the book's ending struck me as sort of deus ex machina ... on reflection it was probably a reasonable conclusion.

The author asks the reader to consider the times he or she has wondered what would have happened if he or she had made a different big life decision (career choice, marriage, kids or not, work in industry or for a non-profit). The reader also starts to realize how many small decisions can have a major impact (because I took the scenic route on the way home from work I avoided that multi-car pileup). Crouch uses the device of the box as a means to explore some possible consequences. He keeps coming back to the importance of family as providing the most lasting fulfillment.

Hard to put this one down once you start.

Reply
Guru
CR4 Admins - CR4 Moderator - CR4 Moderator Technical Fields - Technical Writing - New Member United States - Member - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Crime Alley, Gotham City
Posts: 505
Good Answers: 1
#7
In reply to #5

Re: Book Club Discussion: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

10/31/2016 3:34 PM

Predictability definitely plays a part in how our Jason interacted with his world and himselves. Ultimately he left it up to someone else to reunite him with his wife and kids, which is pretty smart, but another instance where predictability is important.

This kind of goes back to what I said to Bayes. We're forced to assume of Jason is one of the first dozen or so Jasons back to the home world. Otherwise some other Jason would've though of the solution already, because Jason.

__________________
HUSH
Reply
The Engineer
Engineering Fields - Engineering Physics - Physics... United States - Member - NY Popular Science - Genetics - Organic Chemistry... Popular Science - Cosmology - New Member Ingeniería en Español - Nuevo Miembro - New Member

Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Albany, New York
Posts: 5013
Good Answers: 126
#9
In reply to #5

Re: Book Club Discussion: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

11/01/2016 8:56 AM

I think you're right regarding the deus ex machina ending. Certainly the story could have had millions of unhappy endings. The author only chose to tell the story of the Jason who succeeded. I guess that makes sense. It certainly would have been an unsatisfying book if it followed the Jason who Jason ran into in the hallway (that was a chilling part of the book for me).

It's funny, for a book that's built upon Quantum Theory, its heart seems to be in Chaos Theory. In Chaos theory, the smallest perturbation to a system can sometimes result in drastic different outcomes or very similar outcomes, depending on where you are. It does seem like life choices can act that way.

Personally I have serious doubts about the Many-worlds theory. It seems to require infinite energy which doesn't sit well with me. But if it were correct and there were infinite versions of us in infinite worlds then what we call fate may simply be a strange attractor.

Reply
Guru
CR4 Admins - CR4 Moderator - CR4 Moderator United States - Member - New Member Popular Science - Cosmology - New Member Technical Fields - Education - New Member

Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: East Greenbush, NY
Posts: 549
Good Answers: 9
#11
In reply to #9

Re: Book Club Discussion: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

11/01/2016 2:47 PM

I hadn't caught the relationship between chaos theory and part of the book's premise. I think the idea of small perturbations causing large effects was floating around in my mind but it never surfaced. That's another way of looking at the proliferation of Jasons: they're the products of each one turning left instead of right one day on the way to work, sort of.

A math question, based on three minutes' reading of that Wikipedia: If the system in which Jason exists is chaotic, does that mean that the number of possible outcomes is limited? I have quite probably gotten the definition of strange attractor completely wrong, but that's the way I understood it. The the system limits the number of outcomes, does that overcome your reservations about infinite energy?

Reply
The Engineer
Engineering Fields - Engineering Physics - Physics... United States - Member - NY Popular Science - Genetics - Organic Chemistry... Popular Science - Cosmology - New Member Ingeniería en Español - Nuevo Miembro - New Member

Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Albany, New York
Posts: 5013
Good Answers: 126
#13
In reply to #11

Re: Book Club Discussion: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

11/01/2016 3:17 PM

"A math question, based on three minutes' reading of that Wikipedia: If the system in which Jason exists is chaotic, does that mean that the number of possible outcomes is limited? "

That's an interesting question. I don't think it means the possible outcomes are limited. All outcomes are possible. I think it means that some outcomes are much more likely than others. So for instance maybe what happens most frequently is Jason dies trying to use the box to get back. If I had to guess, I'd say the strange attractor for this system would be Jason's death (the value that Jason ends up at most frequently from the moment Jason2 steals his life).

Reply
Guru
CR4 Admins - CR4 Moderator - CR4 Moderator United States - Member - New Member Popular Science - Cosmology - New Member Technical Fields - Education - New Member

Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: East Greenbush, NY
Posts: 549
Good Answers: 9
#16
In reply to #13

Re: Book Club Discussion: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

11/01/2016 4:27 PM

Makes sense. All of the alternate worlds we were allowed to see were more or less gruesome and threatening.

Reply
Guru
Hobbies - HAM Radio - New Member Hobbies - Model Rocketry - New Member

Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 671
Good Answers: 36
#14

Re: Book Club Discussion: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

11/01/2016 4:11 PM

I will admit I had somewhat of an issue with the extra Jason's in general just that it made my head hurt. In a related note wouldn't each Jason have arrived in their own box? In the end they were all around one box the one the main character arrived in, why that box and that spot. Would the boxes have arrived at the same spot? and then what do they do, stack combine or something like that? Sort of like they each arrive through different doors but now have one door to leave through. It has been a while so perhaps I forgot if or how that was resolved but it seems sort of like a paradox of multidimensional travel.

Reply
Guru
CR4 Admins - CR4 Moderator - CR4 Moderator United States - Member - New Member Popular Science - Cosmology - New Member Technical Fields - Education - New Member

Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: East Greenbush, NY
Posts: 549
Good Answers: 9
#15
In reply to #14

Re: Book Club Discussion: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

11/01/2016 4:25 PM

Now that's an interesting point. I hadn't thought about multiple boxes. And how did the one box end up far from its original location. Jason ended up once out in the country, yet he got back to the box's entrance.

Reply
Guru
Hobbies - HAM Radio - New Member Hobbies - Model Rocketry - New Member

Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 671
Good Answers: 36
#17
In reply to #15

Re: Book Club Discussion: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

11/01/2016 4:49 PM

If you take that idea to a semi logical conclusion the world the Jason's arrived on would have gotten over run with boxes and Jason's as they arrived. Now our primary Jason and his family are on the run through the multiverse but for the same reason you have multiple Jason's you would have multiples of the family. If you had multiple boxes then you would have a sort of cat and mouse game where the single Jason's are chasing the ones with family. I could see the multiverse getting over run with them universe by universe as they seek each other out going to the places they know they would most likely go. I don't know if that line of thinking is going overboard, I did read it long enough ago that I have forgotten some details.

Reply
Guru
CR4 Admins - CR4 Moderator - CR4 Moderator Technical Fields - Technical Writing - New Member United States - Member - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Crime Alley, Gotham City
Posts: 505
Good Answers: 1
#18
In reply to #14

Re: Book Club Discussion: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

11/02/2016 10:15 AM

But Jason1 encountered a hairy, disheveled Jason in the box corridor, so I think to shows they all use the same box/mechanism to travel.

__________________
HUSH
Reply
Guru
CR4 Admins - CR4 Moderator - CR4 Moderator United States - Member - New Member Popular Science - Cosmology - New Member Technical Fields - Education - New Member

Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: East Greenbush, NY
Posts: 549
Good Answers: 9
#19
In reply to #18

Re: Book Club Discussion: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

11/02/2016 11:48 AM

Oh, that's right. I'd forgotten. I'm still not 100% sure how all of them got to exist in the same reality.

Reply
Guru
Hobbies - HAM Radio - New Member Hobbies - Model Rocketry - New Member

Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 671
Good Answers: 36
#20
In reply to #18

Re: Book Club Discussion: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

11/02/2016 1:12 PM

True but how could they all be the same box, they were created on different worlds. I could see them all leading to the same corridor however.

Now that I think about it that has to be how it worked although it doesn't quite work with the story.

The corridor is just a hallway with a bunch of doors, so it seems more likely the box never goes anywhere. You simply enter the corridor through one box and exit through the box that exists on another world. The box would always be where it was which now that I think about it is how it is described in the book, as the box never left even though Jason2 did. The box on each world didn't just materialize on the new world, it had to be already in the location it had been built by somebody on that world.

The obvious problem with this is you can only go to a world that already has a box. No box no exit door, which means the story never could have happened since Jason1 never built a box. The only other way this could work is if someone else whom we never were introduced built a box on Jason1's world. It also means that all the Jason's that arrived can leave provided they have the drug.

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 5074
Good Answers: 483
#21

Re: Book Club Discussion: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

11/06/2016 11:04 AM

I enjoyed reading this book. (I downloaded it after first reading this post.)

The multiple world hypothesis as an explanation by Hugh Everett is a fascinating idea to restore logic to quantum phenomena. However, I find it hard to swallow that a new universe is created every time a "decision" is made. And moving something (or someone) from one of these universes to another plays havoc with a number of conservation laws (mass,energy, etc.). (It would be a good way to create large quantities of the magic drug.)

Here's what I think. Almost all processes in nature are lossy, in that energy is dissipated, thereby enforcing a direction in time. For example, you can add cream to your coffee, but you can't take it out. If you can isolate a system perfectly, then time is reversible, and then maybe cause/effect can work both ways. If the system is allowed to interact with the external world, decoherence takes place and the quantum effect disappears.

I'm not at all sure that there is such a thing as a "decision", that there is free will. We're made of atoms and molecules like the rest of the universe, so it seems the brain should follow physical laws. Perhaps "deciding" is just a story our conscious brain makes up to explain our actions. There is some experimental evidence for this viewpoint.

Perhaps we are just self-programmed computers, we learn from experience cause and effect, encodified as science, and whatever doesn't fit the mold (e.g., quantum phenomena) doesn't make sense to us.

Reply
Reply to Blog Entry 22 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.
Copy to Clipboard

Users who posted comments:

Bayes (5); BestInShow (5); frankd20 (3); HUSH (5); MR. Guest (1); Rixter (3)

Previous in Blog: Book Review: The Checklist Manifesto   Next in Blog: Next Book- Three Moments of an Explosion

Advertisement