Based on the "many worlds" theory of quantum physics, Ambrose's 1993 novel follows Rick Hamilton, who rushes to his wife after a horrible premonition only to find her dead on the road. Suddenly, she's alive again, and he's someone else. Kinda weird, but LJ's reviewer found it "a fascinating tale."
Ambrose, a successful screenwriter, has applied his facility for rapid pacing and suspense to his first novel, which is both entertaining and, frankly, quite silly. The plot involves an intriguing "many worlds" theory that suggests that a nearly infinite number of parallel universes exist, separated only by the most fragile of divides. These simultaneous worlds mirror each other, but with eerie little variations. In one universe, Rick Hamilton, an enterprising magazine publisher with an amateur's interest in quantum physics, begins his day by falling off the roof while trying to rescue his cat. Not an hour later, he bolts from an important meeting, full of terror and prescience about his wife's impending death in a horrific car accident. Meanwhile, in another world, a real estate investor named Richard Hamilton has just been in a minor car crash and is suffering from a peculiar form of shock: he seems to be possessed by a feisty alter ego named Rick. Richard/Rick end up in the care of a blind therapist. Eventually, the two establish an odd sort of rapport, but no brain can comfortably accommodate two personalities for long, and things quickly get out of hand. Initially, Ambrose's clever improvisation upon the ever-alluring doppelganger theme is exhilarating, but things soon decline into a mass-market conventionality, that, while not all bad, is, finally, disappointing.
Hypnotic quantum-physics debut, from screenwriter Ambrose, that draws the reader into fabulous parallel worlds a bit like those of Ghost and the post-trauma of Fearless. Well-to-do Connecticut publisher Rick Hamilton finds himself beset by strange feelings and at an important business meeting sketches pictures of his wife Anne in a horrible accident. He dashes out of the meeting but is too late to save Anne, who dies in her car while looking at him (their boy Charlie lives). Whammo, the force of this event lifts Rick into the body of real-estate man Richard Hamilton: his wife is still alive in the car and he's helping her out of it. But meanwhile Charlie has disappearedin this parallel world there is no Charlie, despite Rick/Richard's cries for him. Richard to Rick is Rick, and when he confesses as much to Anne in bed, she has him committed, where his troubles multiply. For one thing, he's rather disgusted with Richard's pouchy, slouching body (Rick had worked out thrice weekly) and Richard's much slower mind. In fact, Rick has little control over Richard's body and occupies only a room in his mind quite divorced from Richard's sensory system. And Richard doesn't know Rick is there. The duo land under the care of blind psychotherapist Emma J. Todd, who takes "Richard" into hypnosis. Rick, however, still alert, speaks for Richard and persuades Emma that he, Rick, doesn't exist. Once let out of the hospital, Rick begins awakening Richard to his state as host of Rick by letting Richard know that the new Anne is unfaithful...and the switches go on until the last page. Great suspense, with wonderful visual problems for a movie. (First printing of 13,000; film rights to HBO)
From the Publisher
"Ingenious . . . A striking novel."Los Angeles Times
"A fascinating tale . . . Poses intriguing questions about life, time, and the universe."Library Journal
"A masterly novel and a brilliant feat of mental analysis . . . Disturbing but also exhilarating, the kind of exhilaration brought to us by a successful work of art."Evening Standard (London)
"Highly ingenious storytelling."Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy