Dreams–and more on THAT later!

20May10

Just one thing, I guess, today.

“Harry” stopped by to pick up the SF mags he lent me.  I could only give him one back, as I didn’t get a chance to read the other two; his brother’s picking them up tomorrow.  I’m hoping to snag a copy of A Fisherman of the Inland Sea to give/lend him before then–maybe I’ll find it used or something, I don’t know.  It’s got “The Rock that Changed Things” in it, which I love.

Today I read “Dreamseed” by Carolyn Ives Gilman, who, as I’ve discovered through totally half-assed online research, appears to identify as a feminist SF writer.  Huh.  The description of the busty love interest made me repeatedly check to see if the writer was a lonely dude doing some wish fulfillment, but no, so…that’s unexpected, I guess.  That was actually the only thing that annoyed me about the story: Why does the protagonist need to fall in love with the busty scientisty lady?  Why does she need to kiss him at the beginning to wake him up?  Oh, as I’m typing, I’m seeing that it’s a reversal of sorts…I don’t know, I guess there’s a lot of Sleeping Beauty shit going on in the story.  Maybe that myth is being deconstructed in it, actually.  I feel like I feel when I try to do a feminist analysis of any of Lady Gaga’s stuff — possibly right, but utterly tentative and controvertible.  Trying to brand some popular media (yeah, including short stories appearing in SF magazines, you know, the height of popularity) as feminist in nature is something I find exceedingly difficult.

Anyway.  The story is about this mad scientist dude (not mad? it’s ambiguous) who determines that human beings would be a lot better off if their dreams were networked — if they could interact with other humans spontaneously in the realm of pure imagination.  He infects the whole of humanity (with one exception, of course!) with a bacterium that has a microchip in it or summat that allows them to hook into the network.  People become enraptured with it (it being the dreamworld that is created by plugging everyone into each other’s brains) and want to do nothing but sleep.  Then some Evil (?) foundation tried to limit their access to sleepytime and they get all angry and try to lead a rebellion to get rid of or circumvent the restrictions.  Jalisca, a particularly “pillowy” member of the rebellion, is very sad that she can’t just sleep all day.  She sheds tears.  They maybe plop plumply down her well-formed cheek; I don’t remember.

The protagonist is the mad scientist dude’s son, and is named, irritatingly, Aspen (I don’t know why it bothers me.  Probably I should think about the significance of the name, but it’s just annoying and precious-sounding to me.).  Aspen has been in a dream coma for the past 15 years.  His dad put him in it, and did NOT infect him with the brain chip thingy.  He likes dreaming and sleeping.  Jalisca et al think his dad wanted to prove that people would be just fine dreaming their way through life.  They also think Aspen holds some key to making it possible for them to sleep all the time instead of being ruled by the Evil (?) foundation, so they try to get him waking consistently enough to remember what that key might be.  Aspen loves Jalisca and wants to join her in Dreamlandia, so he cuts his way out of his bubble-womb (described basically as such) and finds Jalisca to be a dumb, sleeping body and not much else, though this isn’t exactly how he articulates it.

He gets the virus-chip dealy and has his first dream with people, but the thing is (I don’t know if this is the author’s thing or my thing), it’s not really any different than dreams you or I might experience.  How is he to know that the people in his dream are real people, and what difference does it make if they are?  None, it seems.  Perhaps the dreams are more vibrant or more outrageously imaginative; I guess probably that’s where they were headed.  But it seems as though the mythos created by mad scientist dude was maybe just an excuse for people to sleep and dream all day, which…relatively easy judgment call there, right?

At any rate.  The story raises some interesting questions about our brains forcing things into familiar patterns — particularly into chronological/linear patterns — and how much knowledge/information may exist that we simply don’t have reception for.  It also asks, rather directly, what experience consists of, what life consists of (or should consist of) and whether there’s something inherently better about physical, sensory experience as opposed to purely imaginative/mental experience.  There’s some decent irony as relates to humans sacrificing waking, conscious connections with each other to have this profound communion with each other on a subconscious level while their bodies lay unresponsive in their beds.  I thought it was a good one.

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One Response to “Dreams–and more on THAT later!”

  1. Well.. that was interesting… I couldn’t help but be reminded of “City of Lost Children,” even though your little summary didn’t much relate to it (well it did…kinda?). Maybe I’ll read it. Oh and I got distracted as soon as I read “pure imagination–” All of a sudden! I got the song from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory stuck in my head. I think I comment too much on your blog. Very unnecessary…. but I hope it makes you feel special?


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