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Michael P. Kube-McDowellMichael P. Kube-McDowell

(1954- )

Hoosier Connection: Kube-McDowell earned a master’s degree in science education from Indiana University. He worked as an instructor at Miles Laboratories in Elkhart from 1978-1980, and worked as a correspondent for the "Elkhart Truth" from 1982-1984. From 1984 until 1985 he worked as an instructor at Goshen College.

Works Discussed: Alternities

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 reality.

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).

Scottish Rite Cathedral
The Scottish 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 us.



Contemporary Authors: New Revision Series. Ed. Scot Peacock. Vol. 83. Detroit: Gale Group, 2000.

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


Michael P. Kube-McDowell