First part is here, if you feel you need the preamble.
— You called me here. You must have a good reason.
— You’re pulling all the strings. I wanted to meet you to see what plans you have for me.
— Assuming you are right, how would it help you to know that?
— It’s a question of saving time. Not investing too much effort in what you know are going to be blind alleys.
— I don’t think I can help you. If I have a grand plan in mind, it’s not coming back to me for the moment. And you haven’t convinced me yet that it’s me doing the dreaming. Look where we are. …
The Dreamer asked me to make it clear that what follows is a work of fiction.
I suppose technically I have honoured his wish.
In hindsight I think that developing lucid dreaming techniques was a mistake.
I could have stopped at recording naturally occurring dreams, and just pondered their significance, if any, as I have done all my life.
But no, I had to push the boundaries, with the result that I no longer clearly know where the edges are between dreaming and real life.
There’s nothing more tedious than listening to other people’s dreams, so I’ll spare you the details. But six months ago I got the distinct impression that mine were trying to tell me something specific. I was spending my sleeping hours solving problems of one sort or another, sometimes successfully and sometimes with a lingering sense of frustration. …
Second part of the story, so you may want to get caught up here first.
— Shouldn’t we have blown up by now or something?
— What, just because we’re meeting? No, it doesn’t seem to cause a problem. It’s a moot point what would happen to me if I killed you, but I’m not planning to try. In fact it’s fair to say I’m fully invested in keeping you alive and well. And I need to start you on your training.
— What sort of training do you have in mind?
— Survival skills mainly. …
In the quieter reaches of the road which circumnavigates Lake Geneva, a number of unmarked lanes and drives diverge from the main highway, heading down towards the lakeside. At the end of these discreet roads you may find the mansions of the wealthiest citizens in Europe, as well as the boltholes of a swathe of despotic rulers from around the world.
The taxi driver is reluctant to let me out, sceptical of the welcome I may receive at the end of the drive I have indicated. I’m not dressed to mingle naturally with ultra high net worth individuals.
— I can wait if you…
If Ingmar Bergman had directed science fiction, I imagine this is exactly how it would look.
Lured in by the promise of tales of time-travel, body-swapping and parallel realities, I stayed, mesmerised by the humanity of the characters, and in particular the melancholy realism of their processing of loss, death and disillusionment. The weird science is just the backdrop for a slow-burning treatment of the classic themes of literature and cinema.
If you’re used to the jumpcut pace of Altered Carbon or The Boys, you’ll have to slow your roll, or get the hell out before your mind gets infected.
I stayed, and I’m glad I did, as I found the scenarios are now embedded in my psyche, getting turned around and inspected from every angle, my litcrit background teasing out more and more thematic unity in the process. …
Welcome to all readers, old and new. Felt it was high time to send out an update, since we now have over 300 followers and more than 30 registered writers.
As before, if you receive this only via email you may see some rather boring text links below. Whereas if you find the “open in browser” option you can see the title pictures too (well, that’s how it was supposed to work — can’t seem to make it happen, so enjoy those boring text links!).
Let’s dive right in with a warm hello to new writers since the last newsletter, no fewer than twelve of them! …
My uncle died a few weeks ago. He didn’t die from the virus, but his funeral was affected by the ongoing restrictions. Today those of us too distant or too numerous to attend got to watch the crematorium service live-streamed to our laptops or smartphones. It made what would always be a sombre experience surreal and grimly affecting.
It was a one-way connection, so I could see my Mum, Dad, widowed Aunt and other family members playing their part, but couldn’t interact in any way. They were all respectful, socially distanced, and in most cases mask-wearing. …
This life didn’t turn out quite the way I want it to be.
How many felt the words of that Nickelback song with the core of their being? We all just wanna be big rock stars.
But time ticks by and somehow nothing materialises.
Never give up on your dreams, we are told. But there’s something a bit melancholy about someone in their sixties still holding fast to what they wanted as a teenager.
So, reluctantly and belatedly, I’m going to have to let go of a few balloons I’ve been clutching and watch wistfully as they soar off into the pale skies. …
“If I could talk to the animals…” sang Dr Doolittle, and then proceeded to do so.
How interesting would it be? Maybe not so much as you would imagine. What if you dedicated your life to establishing communication with a dolphin and then found that all of their conversation revolved around how to find the warm currents close to the shore, or whether it was better to swallow fish whole or crunch them first to release the juices. And what if they showed no interest in knowing about your Duke916 or Instagram account?
What your animal pals can contribute is always going to be constrained by their nature and experience (which is of course also true of human pals). …