Kate Hope Day: “If, Then” (c) 2019
Well-crafted literary & speculative fiction of alternate realities and alternate versions of oneself.
A complex and fascinating novel, both dream-like & realistic. A compassionate tale of ordinary lives, shaken by an extraordinary experience.
The story is set at the foot of Broken Mountain, a dormant volcano in Clearing. Oregon. There are earth tremors from time to time.
The story is centered around the lives of four characters.
Each one experiences “visions”, an alternate reality of their lives.
The alternate reality is preceded by earth tremors and a metallic taste in the mouth.
Ginny McDonnell is the chief surgeon at the nearby hospital. In her alternate reality, she falls in love with her colleague Edith. She knows she will have to face a life-changing decision, to leave her husband, Mark McDonnell. And she must consider the consequences for their son, Noah.
Ginny’s husband, Mark McDonnell is a scientist with the Dept of Fisheries & Wildlife. He is convinced that the behavior of animals is a reliable indicator of volcanic activity. On the mountain, he sees a man just like him, “the Other Mark.” But the Other Mark is dangerous and confrontational.
Through cameras, Mark monitors frogs in the mountain ponds. When he realizes the frogs have left the ponds, he knows in that instant that a volcanic eruption is imminent. He also realizes that to protect his life and the lives of others, he must kill the Other Mark.
Samara Mehta is unsure of what to do with her life. She mourns the recent death of her mother Ashmina who was a real estate agent. Samara acquires a realtor’s license. In her alternate reality, she “sees” her mother put up a “FOR SALE” sign in their family home yard. She discovers also that her parents had planned to retire to Costa Rica.
Cassandra (Cass) is a brilliant philosophy student researching the possible existence of alternate realities. She takes time off to care for her new baby, Leah. Her husband Amar is away on a marine biology research project.
In her alternate reality she sees the Other Mark; and also sees another version of herself, pregnant. Can she still pursue her philosophy studies?
Mark’s premonitions are borne out when Broken Mountain erupts suddenly. The major characters survive in a bunker that Mark has built for just such a contingency.
Other people in the region report visions of their alternate realities as the mountain erupts.
Each person faces making decisions for the future direction of their lives. And the experience of their alternate reality becomes a significant part of those decisions.
The “what ifs” of life. Compelling and thought-provoking novel.