Review: Dark Matter

Dark Matter
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Some books slink onto the bookshelf and lay there for months or years. Some books keep popping up insistently until you say “FINE” and buy it, just to shut up the voice in your head. This is one of the latter. I saw this on my feed, highly recommended among my friends on Goodreads, and finally(!) as a first-ever flyer for “Book Club” near the restrooms in my building in Academic Office One at work. A Sci-fi book for nerdy academic physicians and their staff?

Once I picked up this book, I couldn’t put it down. Sure, the Spielberg-like, idyllic family life for the protagonist, check. The “gotta go out for just a minute” (don’t do it!), check. The inevitable “event” that upends the world for the protagonist, check. Sure, I’ve read (and maybe some of you, following me on this blog?) about the Hero’s Journey at the root of so many stories, and maybe, with my new eyes, I was anticipating some of the next steps.


Sometimes an author pulls you along, and then starts unwinding some big ideas. Okay, maybe the title “Dark Matter” should have been a giveaway. Maybe the first chapters, as the protagonist’s grogginess wears off, seemed to telegraph the author’s hidden intentions.

But then, as my favorite sci-fi books do, the author shifts it into a higher gear and starts spinning a terrific yarn: a tale of hard choices, yearning, “what-if’s”, superpositions, love, Schroedinger’s cat(?), and nape-of-the-neck Spidey-sense tinglers. Any book that includes the phrase: “that person will decohere the quantum state” is okay in my book. Especially if it makes total sense when you get to that point in the narrative.

CMIO’s take? There are times in our lives that we wished we did something differently, and wonder if things would have turned out differently, at work, at home, whether we would be happier, wouldn’t we have fewer regrets, if only…

I suggest: live your life in the present. This present. This one, where you have to read this amazing, thoughtful, science-fiction-isn’t-even-as-weird-as-real-science book, ‘cuz I’m not gonna spoil it for you.

BONUS ROUND: Book club at work was hilarious and fun. Met with staffers at the academic center, all of whom had interesting backgrounds, found very different points of the book to be fascinating, and we had a great exchange. Why don’t we have more book clubs at work? We should.

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Author: CT Lin

CMIO, UCHealth (Colorado); Professor, University of Colorado School of Medicine

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