"Paul Levinson's It's Real Life is a page-turning exploration into that multiverse known as rock and roll. But it is much more than a marvelous adventure narrated by a master storyteller...it is also an exquisite meditation on the very nature of alternate history." -- Jack Dann, The Fiction Writer's Guide to Alternate History

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Quantum Suicide: Beholding the Eye of the Storm

Gerrit Van Woudenberg's Quantum Suicide movie (which he wrote, directed, and -- with Shane Morgan - co-produced) won the Best Sci-Fi Dramatic Feature award at the Philip K. Dick Film Festival last week in New York.  I was at the Festival, and moderated a panel with Van Woudenberg, but I had another appointment when the movie was shown at the Festival.  Van Woudenberg was good enough to give me the URL for a screener, which I just saw and greatly enjoyed.  Herewith a non-spoiler review.

The clockwork of the movie is quantum mechanics, something which will be familiar to readers of my novelette, The Chronology Protection Case, and viewers of the short film that Jay Kensinger made from my story. The multifaceted gist of QM is that is that mere observation of quantum particles affects their location, speed, and existence; that when two particles collide and go off in opposite directions, anything that happens to one instantly influences the other, regardless of how far apart they are, and because this "quantum entanglement" happens regardless of the distance between the particles, it contradicts the widely held notion that speed of light is the ultimate speed in the universe.  Further, particles in themselves exist in either/or states, and observation of a particle determines which state the particle is in, and can even destroy it -- much like, I always think, what trying to fathom the texture of a snowflake with your fingers does to the snowflake.

Quantum Suicide takes this one crucial step further, drawing on the quantum suicide thought-experiment -- in which a gun pointed at the observer can either be shot at the observer's head or not -- and hypothesizing and weaving a story around the premise that therefore the observation of a subatomic particle can also destroy the observer.  Or, more precisely, the experimenter in the eyes of the observer.

But don't think you need to be a quantum physicist to understand and really enjoy this movie.  I'm not, at least in this universe  If you have been a big admirer of Primer -- the now classic 2004 time travel movie -- or any movie that features the scientist or scientists doing concept-bending and earth-shattering work in their spare bedroom or garage, you'll love Quantum Suicide.  Like Kensinger's The Chronology Protection Case, Quantum Suicide features detailed scientific explanations woven into the action, which always feel to me to be something Hugo Gernsback would've greatly appreciated.   And as for work-at-home science, the movie not only features the scientist and his significant other, but their next-door-neighbor, a little girl who also spends her time building radios and ant farms. 

Kennedy Montano does a good job as that precocious girl, Emily, as does Andrew Rogerson as the work-at-home experimenter Cayman with a penchant for self-destruction, and Kate Totten as his life partner Gen who observes Cayman with increasing misgiving. The music in Quantum Suicide, an original score by Mark Lazeski, is suitably pitched between anxiety and terror producing. The movie is currently making the film festival rounds, nominated for six awards and winning another. It will likely be on one of the streaming services this Fall.  If you crave a little hard science in your science fiction you can't go wrong with Quantum Suicide, and if you don't, you don't know what you're missing.

More information about Quantum Suicide here, including a synopsis of the plot and a trailer.

watch the movie on Amazon Prime Video

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