"I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books."

Borges

Friday, April 06, 2007

Fred Patten Reviews Dreamscape

Dreamscape Author: Paul Kidd
Publisher: Kitsune Press/Lulu.com
ISBN 10: 1-84753-242-X
ISBN 13: 978-1-84753-242-8

“Perfection.
The bookstore grew first one detailed neighbour, and then two: a record store owned by a beautiful creature like a sea snail, and a thing like a shaggy, six-legged Afghan hound that slept lazily beside the bookshop door. The girl called the dog-creature ‘the Floop’, and it thumped its tail against the pavement whenever she came by.

The foxes who ran the bookshop were very much in love.

A whole world – each part of it utterly precious. Each part of it unfolding for her as she walked into the world and cared. There was a beautiful infinity of places waiting to be explored…”



In this s-f novel, a young girl has the power to create a detailed fantasy dreamworld of butterfly-filled flowery meadows, old-fashioned seaside resort towns of friendly funny-animal shopkeepers, of soaring ancient griffin statues. She has the ability to invite other people to share her paradise, to add to it with their own dreams. But strangers begin arriving who are not invited, who do not believe in sharing; they must dominate and hurt others. They are followed by men in grey suits who claim that the dreamworld is their stolen virtual amusement park, manufactured by their patented quantum neural gates, and they have the right to take it back from her.

The young girl, Steel, and her friends including Squeee the unicorn, Liz the lizard-woman warrior, and Silk, the debonair falcon-man, are faced with a dilemma: how do you fight to protect a gentle dreamworld without turning it into a nightmare?

Dreamscape
is filled with striking fantasy imagery that cries out to be made into an animated movie. The plot is both simplistic – the young girl and her fantasy companions explore, and later must defend their world -- and confusingly solipsistic.

Is the dreamer a goddess or a ghost creating her own world? A woman locked inside her own imagination? A role-player misusing (or trapped in) Dreamscape, Inc.’s new gaming program? Does Dreamscape have the right to “kill” her to gain control of what they claim is their “intellectual property”; and if they do, will she awaken or die in the “real” world? The climactic battle seems overdone and overly ugly; too close to the Biblical description of Armageddon.

Allegory is fine, but Dreamscape the company has been too strongly established with futuristic computer imagery by this point to switch to a vast horde of demonic archaic warriors for the final assault. Still, the novel right up to the climax depicts a lovely fantasy landscape that any of us could wish to escape to, and it is worth reading for that.

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