When a trio of scientists attempt to simultaneously observe collapses of a wave form, reality gets split in two. Everyone, not just the scientists, begin to experience a dual existence, in which their selves in each reality acts independently while simultaneously being aware of what the other is doing.
McIntosh’s idea is an intriguing one, as is the structure he uses to convey that idea. Presented in a side-by-side narrative, the story follows Nathan (one of the scientists) in both realities simultaneously, rather than flipping between viewpoints. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to actually read the story the way the characters experience it, so one either has the option of reading one narrative before the other, or alternating between sentences, paragraphs or pages. This is a problem of medium which McIntosh does a fair job of overcoming.
The most interesting aspect of the story is how people learn to communicate with their over thereselves. When Nathan cannot find his girlfriend Justine, his over there self knows and is able to relay it to Justine over there, so that Nathan and Justine are able to meet up. If that sounds complex, it is, and McIntosh plays with the idea over and over again.
Until there are suddenly dragons. As it turns out, in one of the realities things and start turning to stone at the touch of mysterious yellow beams of light that appear in the sky. Nathan eventually figures out that these lights are neutralizing the paradox he and his compatriots created. Why he and other characters start calling them “dragons” is beyond me. I’m not against dragons per se, or even missing explanations in stories, but it just kind of comes out of nowhere here. Did the light beam somehow look like a dragon? Did the split reality somehow create actual dragons? Why did they turn things to stone rather than, say, eating people or burning them to a crisp? It’s bizarre and confusing. Bizarre and confusing isn’t necessarily bad, but in this case I fail to see how it helps the story to call these … beings? energies? … dragons.
In the end, the story is little more than the old theme of lovers trying to reconnect after being separated by science-fantastical circumstances. And light dragons.