Dark Matter (Movie Tie-In)

A Novel

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July 26, 2016 | ISBN 9781101904237

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July 26, 2016 | ISBN 9781101924488

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About the Book

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • OVER ONE MILLION COPIES SOLD! • NOW STREAMING ON APPLE TV+

A “mind-blowing” (Entertainment Weekly) speculative thriller about an ordinary man who awakens in a world inexplicably different from the reality he thought he knew—from the author of Upgrade, Recursion, and the Wayward Pines trilogy

“Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the kidnapper knocks him unconscious. 

Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.

Before a man he’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college professor but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this life or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how will Jason make it back to the family he loves?

From the bestselling author Blake Crouch, Dark Matter is a mind-bending thriller about choices, paths not taken, and how far we’ll go to claim the lives we dream of.
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Praise for Dark Matter (Movie Tie-In)

“The most helter-skelter, race-to-the-finish-line thriller you’ll read all year, with a clever, mind-boggling final twist.”The Guardian

“Relatable and unnerving . . . makes its characters—and readers—wonder what life would have been like had they made different decisions.”USA Today

“A portal into other dimensions of reality . . . you’ll gulp it down in one afternoon, or more likely one night.”The New York Times Book Review

“A mind-blowing sci-fi/suspense/love-story mash-up.”Entertainment Weekly

“A fast, tasty read with a killer twist. It’s a whole bag of barbecue chips . . . just sitting there waiting for you to devour in one long rush.”—NPR

“A dazzling book . . . [with] a mind-bending premise, a head-spinning plot that’s dialogue-driven and adrenaline-fueled, and a gut-wrenching climax that gave me goose bumps.”Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“Draws on questions and anxieties we all wrestle with in the dark hours . . . Crouch has invested [sci-fi motifs] with scientific plausibility, and more unusually, with emotional depth."—The Wall Street Journal

“[A] mind-blowing speculative-science thriller that throws in an old-fashioned love story for good measure.”—Fort Worth Star-Telegram

“A pacy, action-driven SF thriller . . . terse prose, strong characterisation and clever twists make for a quick, smart, engrossing read.”Financial Times

“A high-tension thriller . . . always engaging and frequently moving. A strong piece of summertime get-away reading, perfect for those times when the mind wanders to contemplate an alternate reality of endless vacation.”San Francisco Chronicle

“A mind-bending odyssey of parallel worlds and causality [that] unfolds with all the suspense and strength of a more straightforward thriller, building up to a deliciously surreal climax…memorable and well-rounded characters add a big, beating heart to the tale.”—New York Journal of Books 

“Brilliant. A book to remember. I think Blake Crouch just invented something new.”—Lee Child, New York Times bestselling author of the Jack Reacher series
 
“Exceptional. An exciting, ingeniously plotted adventure about love, regret, and quantum superposition. It’s been a long time since a novel sucked me in and kept me turning pages the way this one did.”—Andy Weir, New York Times bestselling author of The Martian
 
“A masterful, truly original work of suspense. Crouch delivers laser-focused prose, a plot that melds science fiction and thriller to brilliant effect, and a touching, twisted love story that plays out in ways you'll never see coming. It all adds up to one hell of a ride.”Harlan Coben, New York Times bestselling author of The Stranger

“Wow. I gulped down Dark Matter in one sitting and put it down awed and amazed by the ride. It's fast, smart, addictive—and the most creative, head-spinning novel I've read in ages. A truly remarkable thriller.”Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author of the Rizzoli & Isles series
 
“A mind-bending thriller of the first order, not merely a rollicking entertainment but a provocative investigation into the nature of second chances, all of it wrapped in a genius sci-fi package. I dare you to put it down, because I sure couldn’t.”Justin Cronin, New York Times bestselling author of the Passage Trilogy.
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Excerpt

Dark Matter (Movie Tie-In)

I love Thursday nights.

They have a feel to them that’s outside of time.

It’s our tradition, just the three of us—family night.

My son, Charlie, is sitting at the table, drawing on a sketch pad. He’s almost fifteen. The kid grew two inches over the summer, and he’s as tall as I am now.

I turn away from the onion I’m julienning, ask, “Can I see?”

He holds up the pad, shows me a mountain range that looks like something on another planet.

I say, “Love that. Just for fun?”
 
“Class project. Due tomorrow.”

“Then get back to it, Mr. Last Minute.”

Standing happy and slightly drunk in my kitchen, I’m unaware that tonight is the end of all of this. The end of everything I know, everything I love.

No one tells you it’s all about to change, to be taken away. There’s no proximity alert, no indication that you’re standing on the precipice. And maybe that’s what makes tragedy so tragic. Not just what happens, but how it happens: a sucker punch that comes at you out of nowhere, when you’re least expecting. No time to flinch or brace.

The track lights shine on the surface of my wine, and the onion is beginning to sting my eyes. Thelonius Monk spins on the old turntable in the den. There's a richness to the analog recording I can never get enough of, especially the crackle of static between tracks. The den is filled with stacks and stacks of rare vinyl that I keep telling myself I'll get around to organizing one of these days.

My wife, Daniela, sits on the kitchen island, swirling her almost­ empty wineglass in one hand and holding her phone in the other. She feels my stare and grins without looking up from the screen.

“I know,” she says. “I’m violating the cardinal rule of family night.”

“What’s so important?” I ask.

She levels her dark, Spanish eyes on mine. “Nothing.”

I walk over to her, take the phone gently out of her hand, and set it on the countertop.

“You could start the pasta,” I say.

“I prefer to watch you cook.”

“Yeah?” Quieter: “Turns you on, huh?”

“No, it's just more fun to drink and do nothing.”

Her breath is wine-sweet, and she has one of those smiles that seem architecturally impossible. It still slays me.

I polish off my glass. “We should open more wine, right?”

“It would be stupid not to.”

As I liberate the cork from a new bottle, she picks her phone back up and shows me the screen.

“I was reading Chicago Magazine's re­ view of Marsha Altman's show.”

“Were they kind?”

“Yeah, it's basically a love letter.”
 
“Good for her.”

“I always thought . . .” She lets the sentence die, but I know where it was headed. Fifteen years ago, before we met, Daniela was a comer to Chicago's art scene. She had a studio in Bucktown, showed her work in a half dozen galleries, and had just lined up her first solo exhibition in New York. Then came life. Me. Charlie. A bout of crippling post­ partum depression.

Derailment.

Now she teaches private art lessons to middle-grade students.

“It’s not that I’m not happy for her. I mean, she's brilliant, she de­serves it all.”

I say, “If it makes you feel any better, Ryan Holder just won the Pavia Prize.”

“What’s that?”

“A multidisciplinary award given for achievements in the life and physical sciences. Ryan won for his work in neuroscience.”

“Is it a big deal?”

“Million dollars. Accolades. Opens the floodgates to grant money.”

“Hotter TA’s?”

“Obviously, that's the real prize. He invited me to a little informal celebration tonight, but I passed.”

“Why?”

“Because ifs our night.”

“You should go.”

“I’d really rather not.”

Daniela lifts her empty glass. “So what you’re saying is, we both have good reason to drink a lot of wine tonight.”

I kiss her, and then pour generously from the newly opened bottle.

“You could've won that prize,” Daniela says.

“You could've owned this city’s art scene.”

“But we did this.” She gestures at the high-ceilinged expanse of our brownstone. I bought it pre-Daniela with an inheritance. “And we did that,” she says, pointing to Charlie as he sketches with a beau­tiful intensity that reminds me of Daniela when she's absorbed in a painting.

It’s a strange thing being the parent of a teenager. One thing to raise a little boy, another entirely when a person on the brink of adult­ hood looks to you for wisdom. I feel like I have little to give. I know there are fathers who see the world a certain way, with clarity and confidence, who know just what to say to their sons and daughters. But I’m not one of them. The older I get, the less I understand. I love my son. He means everything to me. And yet, I can't escape the feel­ing that I'm failing him. Sending him off to the wolves with nothing but the crumbs of my uncertain perspective.

I move to the cabinet beside the sink, open it, and start hunting for a box of fettuccine.

Daniela turns to Charlie, says, “Your father could have won the Nobel.”

I laugh. “That’s possibly an exaggeration.”

“Charlie, don’t be fooled. He’s a genius.”

“You’re sweet,” I say. “And a little drunk.”

“It’s true, and you know it. Science is less advanced because you love your family.”

I can only smile. When Daniela drinks, three things happen: her native accent begins to bleed through, she becomes belligerently kind, and she tends toward hyperbole.

“Your father said to me one night—never forget it—that pure re­search is life-consuming. He said . . .” For a moment, and to my sur­prise, emotion overtakes her. Her eyes mist, and she shakes her head like she always does when she's about to cry. At the last second, she rallies, pushes through. “He said, ‘Daniela, on my deathbed I would rather have memories of you than of a cold, sterile lab.’”

I look at Charlie, catch him rolling his eyes as he sketches. Probably embarrassed by our display of parental melodrama.

I stare into the cabinet and wait for the ache in my throat to go away.

When it does, I grab the pasta and close the door.

Daniela drinks her wine.

Charlie draws.

The moment passes.

“Where's Ryan’s party?” Daniela asks.

“Village Tap.”

“That’s your bar, Jason”

“So?”

She comes over, takes the box of pasta out of my hand.

“Go have a drink with your old college buddy. Tell him you're proud of him. Head held high. Tell him I said congrats.”

“I will not tell him you said congrats.”

“Why?”

“He has a thing for you.”

“Stop it.”

“It’s true. From way back. From our roommate days. Remember the last Christmas party? He kept trying to trick you into standing under the mistletoe with him?”

She just laughs, says, “Dinner will be on the table by the time you get home.”

“Which means I should be back here in . . .”

“Forty-five minutes.”

“What would I be without you?” She kisses me.

“Let’s not even think about it”

I grab my keys and wallet from the ceramic dish beside the micro­ wave and move into the dining room, my gaze alighting on the tes­seract chandelier above the dinner table. Daniela gave it to me for our tenth wedding anniversary. Best gift ever.

As I reach the front door, Daniela shouts, “Return bearing ice cream!”

“Mint chocolate chip!” Charlie says. I lift my arm, raise my thumb.

I don’t look back.

I don’t say goodbye.

And this moment slips past unnoticed.

The end of everything I know, everything I love.
Random House Publishing Group