The Book of Dreams
Edited by Nick Gevers
Review by Carolyn Frank
Subterranean Press Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781596062849
Date: 31 January 2010 List Price $20.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
To sleep, perchance to dream. We don't always remember our dreams when we sleep, but when we do... Five major fantasy authors convey the now-wakeful reader into worlds created by those who sleep intensely if not necessarily quietly, the Book of Dreams. As opposed to much of fantasy where a suspension of disbelief is mandatory from the start, these tales start quite reasonably enough in our current world view but draw the protagonist into a rather different sphere.
Robert Silverberg in "The Prisoner" tells the tale of Charlie whose non-repeating nightly dreams of dying through a variety of gristly ways are taking over his mundane life. Although Charlie gradually comes to understand that the person who is dying over and over in his dreams is not himself, he can not seem to figure out how to make the horrifying dreams stop.
Lucius Shepard in "Dream Burgers at the Mouth of Hell" provides one possible way that Hollywood scriptwriters gain their background for the stories they prepare. This is more of a daytime hallucination than a night-time dream, but the same sorts of just-over-the-bizarre-line events occur based on the most recent activities of Arthur Embrey, aspiring screen writer of a dragon-themed movie.
Jay Lake in "Testaments" has angels transcribing the dreams of six major personages throughout our history. In each case the dream is the method by which the dreamer's unconscious informs the dreamer of his ultimate fate. But why are the angels transcribing these particular dreams?
Kage Baker in "Rex Nemorensis" updates the tale of the golden bough to a place that starts out in coastal central California. The protagonist is a Vietnam vet who finds his own way of dealing with post traumatic stress disorder, serving as a new form of priest to a jungle truth.
Jeffrey Ford in "86 Deathdick Road" sends his protagonist from a miserably crowded party in honor of the self-described World's Smartest Man into a hellish waking dream of being attacked by owls. Every person he meets and every item he sees is a symbol, but how is he supposed to interpret them?
Each of these stories raises fascinating questions and, as dreams do, provides a variety of ways out or possible interpretations. These are thinking-persons fantasy stories, intended for people who look beyond the initial facade of story line into the depths of character and meaning.