Michael Paul Kube-McDowell was born August 29,
1954 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father, John F. McDowell,
was a sales engineer, and his mother, L. Patricia McDowell,
worked as an office administrator. In 1975, Kube-McDowell
married Karla Jane Kube, which is where he came up with his
extended name. They divorced in 1987.
Kube-McDowell received his M. S. from Indiana
University in 1981, and went on to teach in Indiana. He
worked as a science and math teacher in Middlebury,
Indiana from 1976-1983, and worked as an instructor at Miles
Laboratories during that time as well, from 1978-1980. He
was also an instructor at Goshen
College from 1985-1985. Besides teaching in Indiana, Kube-McDowell
also did newspaper work, working for the "South Bend
Tribune" as a book reviewer and for the "Elkhart
Truth" as a correspondent.
Newspaper work isn't
what he's known for as a writer, however. Kube-McDowell specializes
in science fiction, and his novel Alternities
is certainly just that. It is centered on the question, “What
if there were parallel universes, and what if we could visit
them?” His protagonists are working against the government,
which wants to abuse its power, all the while visiting other
dimensions during the 1970s.
One of the advantages of writing a novel in which
there are other "versions" of Indiana is that it
gives Kube-McDowell the chance to compare the Indiana that
Hoosiers have grown accustomed to with the ones that could
have been. Sometimes the results of this exploration of alternative
universes are disappointing. Wallace, one of the main characters,
notes that the streets are "barren of trees, the brick
and cinderblock buildings squat and functional, the few modern
towers twenty stories bland and interchangeable" (136).
Though this new Indiana still feels familiar, by the end of
this section Wallace finds himself deeply missing his own
Kube-McDowell writes in a way that prefers the
story over a moral, but even so finds ways to make commentary
on the environment. When Wallace hears mention of Beech
Grove, a suburb of Indianapolis, his thoughts immediately
turn to urban
sprawl, remembering that “Beech Grove was one of
the dozens of little villages in danger of being enveloped
by a growing Indianapolis" (147).
Rite Cathedral in Indianapolis; location of a transdimensional
portal in "Alternities"
Other times, Kube-McDowell has a character speak on behalf
of some part of the environment. When Wallace is in southern
Indiana with a young woman named Shan, she shows him an old
oak tree for which she cares very deeply. “It was already
old when this land belonged to the Algonkin and the Iroquois...,"
she tells him. "[T]he whole state was oak-hickory forest
as far as you could see, before the French started cutting
trees to build their forts and their fires.... This is a good
place to grow.” To this Wallace replies, “Nothing
like this in Chicago." (233) Wallace realizes the stark
difference between the natural and the urban world.
Pitting Indiana’s environment and the cutting
edge technology needed for inter-dimensional travel against
one another makes statements like these all the more meaningful.
Kube-McDowell seems to indicate that we must maintain an understanding
of our environment, no matter where our technology may lead
Contemporary Authors: New Revision
Series. Ed. Scot Peacock. Vol. 83. Detroit: Gale Group,
Kube-McDowell, Michael P. Alternities.
New York: Ace, 1988.
Vanausdale, Jeanette. Pride and
Protest: The Novel in Indiana. Indianapolis: Indiana
Historical Society, 1999.
Who's Who In Entertainment.
Ed. Lee Zhito. Vol. 1. Wilmette: Marquis, 1998.
The Fiction Page. <http://www.geocities.com/fictionpage/mcdowell/bio.html>
Preserve Indiana. <http://www.preserveindiana.com/pixpages/moreindy.htm>
Copyright (c) Mike Habeck