Richard Dee tends to write sci-fi but I had never read any of his work, despite this being, I think, his twelfth book; as such, I leapt at the chance to review his latest, ‘Life and Other Dreams’, as part of a blog tour.
In it, we follow Rick, who in real life (present day England) works in advertising and is married to a nurse, Cathy. However, in his dreams he is transported to the planet Ecias, 600 years in the future, where he is Dan and married to Vanessa. But which life is real and which is the dream? When these two realities start to bleed into each other, Rick’s world and assumptions start to fall apart and questions must be asked.
It’s a familiar device, as any reader of SF and Fantasy will know – very PKD – and this is executed better than most writers’ attempts at it. On his website, Dee calls himself a world-builder – and he certainly is that. Dan-of-the-future’s Ecias is vivid and has a solid sense of place about it; more vivid than the London of Rick-of-the-present, which I’m certain is deliberate and equates to some clever writing on Dee’s part.
However, I was disappointed to find most of the characters quite two-dimensional, lacking the nuance and depth I look for, and which would have elevated this aspect of the book into the upper echelons. Even the main characters. The writing generally was very competent, but I felt that Dee rushed the finale (I imagine very tempting for any writer to do, towards the end of completing a novel!); the last 15% of the book threw previously unknown (and sometimes unneeded) information at us, there was a lot of unnecessary exposition and it was simply overwritten in places. It was an advance reader copy, so there are bound to be typos and grammatical / punctuation problems – I am sure that these issues will be tightened up in the final edit.
It needs tweaking but I enjoyed the read and look forward to reading others of Dee’s.
I’d give it 4*
Rick lives here on Earth now, with Cath. His life is boring, writing adverts for cat food and exotic holidays. When he’s asleep, he dreams vividly.
In his dreams, he lives as Dan, spending his time with his wife Vanessa. They live six-hundred years in the future, half a galaxy away. They’re explorers, searching for valuable minerals on Ecias, an alien paradise.
Dan has no dreams about Rick’s life, he lives on Ecias, loves his life and Vanessa.
When the two worlds overlap, Rick starts to question what is real. Events in his waking and sleeping lives are mirrored, similar people inhabit both and coincidences mount up. Then disaster strikes in each world at the same time. In his dreams, Dan is accused of a crime he didn’t commit. Meanwhile, after one coincidence too many, Cath thinks that Rick’s dreams are hiding an affair and leaves him.
Is Rick going crazy, or can he be living in two places, in two times, at once? If not, then which one of them is the reality? Will one life carry on when the other is on hold?
Richard Dee’s fast-paced, edgy science fiction -cum- psychological thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat until the last page!
I was sent this book in return for an honest review; I do not get paid for blog tours.