Imagine a world that is so rushed, so busy, that its people are constantly plagued by nightmares and insomnia. These issues are so commonplace that people regularly take sleeping aids and other pills that rob them of their dreamlives. If you found yourself in that situation, how far would you go to ensure that you could dream again? Would you subscribe to a nightly “dreambeam” session, where dreamweavers enabled you to sleep through the night and replaced your nightmares with pleasant dreams?
The Final Dream begins when we meet Brian Drury, one of the three billion people who subscribe to Yosef Iones (the most popular dreamweaver in business), pondering over the previous night’s dream. For Brian and others like him, the previous night’s dreams were some of the most intense that he had experienced, but they ended in a cliffhanger. Although some subscribers aren’t happy with Iones’s choice, grumbling statements like “Why can’t Iones just stick to what he’s best at?” and “It would have been the greatest Starrytale ever if he’d finished what he started,” as usual, they tune in again the following night for what they hope will be the conclusion of the dream.
Instead, subscribers are faced with three consecutive nights of nightmares so horrific that they permanently change subscribers’ lives. Some people quit their jobs; others commit suicide. The media and representatives from Iones’s organization attempt to spin the nightmares as technical difficulties and assure their subscribers that they’re working out the problems. But Brian doesn’t believe them, and the truth that he discovers may be a nightmare come true.
One of the things I love the most about Daniel Pearlman’s story is the realistic elements of it. Although the book itself is sci-fi, I could easily see our society heading down this path, where people subscribe to dreamcasts as easily as they subscribe to cable television. I wonder what the long-term effects of something like this would be and how it would change our reality. Would we ever be able to function without it? Would we eventually become so dependent on maintaining our blissful, dream-like state that we would request to be left in our dream worlds permanently? I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves science fiction.