I really had trouble with the title of this book. First I called it Quantum Reality, which made it sound like a text book. Then it was Weavers of Reality, the weavers being the shadow creatures from another dimension. Still didn’t sound right to me, more like a book about making very sturdy rugs. Finally I settled on Shadows of the Multiverse, which gave it more of a pulp feel than I wanted, but seemed to fit better than anything else I had come up with. I originally sent it off to publishers with the Quantum Reality title on it, which might have hurt it a bit with first impressions.
I decided to also attack the Fermi Proposition in this book, which asks where all the intelligent life is if we are never visited. First by making the appearance of intelligent life a very rare event. But with all those trillions upon trillions of stars that still means that many forms will spring up here and there, just not near enough for us to pick up the radio waves. And those not lucky enough to find a gate in their or a nearby system are kind of screwed as far as getting out to the Universe in general. In fact the explorers find many traces of really ancient civilizations, some made of superhard materials on planetary surfaces, able to resist erosion. Others in the vacuum of space where they are preserved for eternity. They seem to belong to different eras, like waves of civilizations that all end about the same time, then another wave that also ends in a short period. And no one knows why. Until the time of this book, when those who hate the intelligences of our Universe make another appearance.
I also decided to make this book as hard a science fiction as was possible within the constraints of the story. No artificial gravity, no inertial compensators, no force fields beyond electromagnetic, no unknown basic forces of the Universe. It made the book more challenging to write than a Trek book where ships could basically accelerate as fast as they wanted and come to a complete stop in no time. But I was very satisfied with that effect.
There is a mystical side to the story in the control of reality by intelligent minds. Quantum theory posits that many events can be more than one thing until and intelligent mind looks at them. The Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment is an example, where the cat is both alive and dead in the box until someone checks it and fixes its reality. And I thought if normal intelligent minds can shape the possibilities, why can’t exceptional minds do even more. It has to be the unusual science fiction novel I have ever written, though hopefully not the most unusual I ever will write.