The man who brought you Wayward Pines has created Dark Matter, a new take on a premise visited by Sliders. Jason Dessen lives a quiet life as a physics professor in suburban Chicago. He has a wife and a son and, while not ecstatic about life, is happy. And then one night, he is kidnapped by a mysterious man who takes his clothes and drugs him. When he wakes up, his son was never born, he never married his wife, and he works for a shadowy company interested in “superpositioning” matter. It’s a theory Dessen was working on when he received his doctorate, only Daniela, his then girlfriend, got pregnant. In his old life, they gave up chances at wildly successful careers to have a quiet family life. Now, he discovers, he’s been a workaholic for the past fifteen years, working for an organization willing to kill to protect this new technology. And he realizes his kidnapper was him.
What follows is a desperate gamble to find his way back to his own reality. All he finds are different versions of Chicago from the utopian to the nightmarish. He meets multiple versions of Daniela, himself, and the people the other Jason work for.
The novel seems tailor-made for modern television. I can see this stretched out over a 13-episode stream on Netflix or Hulu. Props have to be given to Crouch for not making this a special effects-worthy story. He sets his story in naturalistic settings. With one exception, where modern technology is advanced by about a century, the realities Jason finds can be found outside your door or on CNN.