Alice Through the Multiverse

When we gaze into space, we can see the afterglow of the Big Bang, some 14 billion years back in time to the creation of the known universe. In the theory of “eternal inflation,” though, some parts of the universe didn’t end, creating alternate, or multiple universes (multiverses), infinite in number and perhaps even obeying different laws of physics from the ones we’re familiar with.

In Brian Trenchard-Smith’s Alice Through the Multiverse, protagonist Alice, born in Tudor England, finds herself “in a strange place, interrupted by fragments of a life she had known. And with each waking, a contradiction.”

This place? A psychiatric hospital, present day…where “she had not died, or at least, she had no memory of death…[yet] here she was in another world. Certainly not Heaven, nor did this seem the molten pits of Hell.”

Faithful readers of our site will recognize the name, Brian Trenchard-Smith. He’s the English-Australian film/TV director, producer, writer (and now novelist) who directed the thoroughly mesmerizing Stunt Rock, and the crack action flicks, Day of the Panther and Strike of the Panther, the dystopian/survivalist, Turkey Shoot, and two installments of the Leprechaun series. The beginning of Alice came to him in a dream in 2003:

All I could remember next morning were a few images. A riot overwhelms a medieval execution… A young girl flees through the forest in a blinding thunderstorm… The girl faints… She wakes up in a 21st Century psychiatric institution…

From a narrative standpoint, infinite universes provide novelists with infinite narratives (the fractal on the book’s cover is no accident. These are infinitely complex abstract objects that simulate naturally occurring phenomena). Here, Trenchard-Smith focuses on two: an attending physician who kidnaps the girl, and secret agents who then pursue the duo.

Writers of historical fiction need to get every period detail correct. Even more challenging? Switching between time and place, as the author deftly does here, from posh West London to 16th century Tower Hill.

Alice Through the Multiverse mirrors Brian Trenchard-Smith’s multivariate film career, with elements of espionage, adventure, and international intrigue.

The book is available on Amazon / Kindle and interested readers can take a look at this short trailer.

The Kindred

Ah, another “modern Prometheus” evil experiment movie. You seldom go wrong with a lab coat and nefarious doings in a basement lab. Enter, The Kindred, a movie with dollops of backstory and erudition to spare usually the opposite in these kinds of things, especially ones filmed on the cheap.

Dr. Amanda Hollins’ life work lurks in bubbling Florence flasks and mysterious beakers in a dark subterranean lair.After all, that’s where the very best biomedical research labs are, let’s be honest.

Dr. Hollins had a falling out with evil Dr. Lloyd (Rod Steiger) over the direction of their controversial gene-splicing research. She has moral scruples, he decidedly does not.

Hollins is not long for this earth, and issues an edict to son John to destroy the fruits of her labors before they get into the wrong hands. John and a bunch of grad student buddies head to her home and basement lab to do her bidding.

But things are never cut-and-dried. There’s a young Hollins acolyte among them, Melissa, who is keen on preserving the doc’s research for posterity.

Da-da-dum.

It’s what the group eventually find in the lab that inspired the title, The Kindred, and what adds another appendage to the Hollins family tree.

The movie’s baby bottle fetus poster is undoubtedly etched in the memories of seasoned gore hounds, even if they never got around to actually watching The Kindred (it wasn’t exactly a breakout smash in 1987).

Still, with slimy creatures, savvy, smarts, infidelity, and grave-robbing, The Kindred has the makings of a 19th century novel! (turns out Dr Lloyd is in cahoots with a body snatcher who passes him near-dead bodies).

Rod Steiger chews the scenery like nicotine gum, but regardless…it’s a fun role, and Amanda Pays (above) is dynamite as grad student/temptress Melissa.

Fans of ’50s monster movies will be delighted as there are definite nods to flicks like The Brain that Wouldn’t Die and countless others.

***1/2 (out of 5)

[Check out our podcast discussion of The Kindred on the Really Awful Movies Podcast!]