Quantum buffoonery in a fun but unconvincing sci-fi romp Dark Matter Blake Crouch, Macmillan, 2016 Fans of the TV series Fringe, which ended in 2013, will know the narrative potential of parallel universes. They can be a textbook example of the uncanny in literature – similar enough to be recognizable but with noticeable, and sometimes amusing, differences. For example, we learn that the second universe’s version of Batman is called the Mantis, and then are forced to consider that, however silly a superhero taking his inspiration from an insect is, a flying rodent is not that much cooler. The raging geek within me was therefore excited by the sound of Dark Matter. The novel tells the story of Jason Dessen, a physicist teaching at a small college in Chicago. He has married the girl of his dreams and together they raise a sweet 15-year-old son. To get this ‘perfect’ life he has sacrificed a glittering career at the forefront of theoretical physics. On the day he discovers an old friend of his has received the Pavia prize—a sort of Wolf prize, presumably named after the book’s editor Julian Pavia—he is abducted and wakes up in a parallel version of Chicago….