Author: Peter Lukes
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Format: Kindle (copy provided by author)
Most people believe that dreams are just involuntary sensations that occur during our sleep. But there are those who know that they are more than a private extension of our subconscious mind. One of these people is Manuel Corr, a Boston cop who inconspicuously enters the dreams of criminals to detect potential crimes. With the help of pharmaceuticals and neuro-technology, Corr’s spirit is able to travel to another plane of existence that he knows as the Sub-Net.
Corr is on a routine assignment in the Sub-Net dreamland when he encounters a criminal he is not prepared to face. A man named Bizmark is aware of Corr’s presence and forces him into a perpetual coma so that he is unable to return to the Tanj (tangible world). Corr learns that corruption has infiltrated the law enforcement agency and he must unlearn everything that he thought was true about the Sub-Net. Helping Corr in his journey are Lieutenant Jackson, Margarite (a fellow officer and love interest), and a scientist who calls himself Poseidon. To foil Bizmark’s plans, Corr must learn the true nature of the Sub-Net and discover his hidden abilities that can restore peace in multiple worlds.
I want to start out by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel. It is highly imaginative, similar to the themes of the movies Inception and The Matrix. When offered a chance to read this novel, I mentioned to the author that I was a huge Philip K Dick fan and that the premise of this book seemed to be up my alley. In fact, it was hard not to draw comparisons to Dick’s work. In particular, I am reminded of The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, where partakers of a drug co-inhabit an architected, hallucinatory world.
Despite the similarities, Perchance to Dream is unique. First of all, it incorporates individual’s dreams as part of a parallel universe, where each person has a sub or zone that allows them the power to manipulate nature within it. For instance, Corr can form guns from the air when he is in his own subconsciousness, but is limited when he is traveling to unfamiliar territory. Furthermore, the level of complexity does not end with the Sub-Net. Corr learns that there are deeper levels within human existence, some of which transport both the body and the soul, leaving no trace of existence in the tangible world.
Lukes’ writing style is rather straight forward. The prose is told in plain language and it carries the story well, but the setting often lacks vivid imagery to really flesh out the world. For example, a rundown building is simply called decrepit without supplying the description of perhaps some rusted nails and rotted joists. At other times, however, the sense are explored in greater details and Lukes does a nice job of describing the sensation one feels when traveling from the Tanj to the Sub-Net.
I liked the characters, but I would have liked to have seen greater depth in both Corr and Margarite. Their relationship was on hold because of law enforcement policies, but I didn’t sense romantic tension between the two. Corr must have some internal struggles that he is trying to overcome, but they are somewhat lost in the unveiling of the multiple worlds. I am hoping in subsequent novels that we can see these characters explored on a deeper and more emotional level where internal struggles must be overcome as much as the external struggle.
The pacing of the novel is good — it never lags and each page peels back another layer of the onion to Lukes’ world. The action scenes are imaginative without the laws of nature constricting the participants. A couple of minor quibbles — there were cases of POV slips (shifting from a close third-person inside the mind of the viewpoint character to an omniscient viewpoint where details are revealed beyond the viewpoint character’s knowledge) and one of my biggest pet peeves, ending scenes/chapters in the middle of a climactic scene for dramatic tension. But don’t let these quibbles deter you, the experience of reading Perchance to Dream is one that sends your mind on an imaginative roller coaster, exploring a world where the sky’s the limit.
For any reader looking for mind-bending, cerebral science fiction, give Perchance to Dream a shot. While there is room for growth in both the characters and prose, the creative plot and world building compensate by providing the reader with a fun, action-packed read. Overall, I enjoyed reading it.