SF Reviews background image SF Reviews logo image
Contact SF Reviews   |   Get the Newsletter 

Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

       
The Dream Master

Copyright 1966 by Roger Zelazny

In Association with Amazon.com In Association with Amazon.co.uk
SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Mediocre (1/5)

I first read this in 1969 and most recently on the 21st June 2003.

Charles Render is a leading proponent of the new psychiatry: he is a neuroparticipant therapist also known as a Shaper. He uses powerful technology to link into the subconscious mind, the dream world, of the patient. Within this dreamworld, Render can carefully work his cure, although the procedure is not without risks to both doctor and patient.

Now the striking Doctor Eileen Shallott wants Render to teach her to become a Shaper. There are a couple of problems though. Eileen Shallott is blind from birth, so first Render must use his shaping skill to introduce her to vision. Secondly, he is strongly attracted to the lady in question but any emotional involvement will increase the complexity and risk of the required procedures.

I have to say I never much liked this book. That's odd because I would expect to enjoy Zelazny writing in this straightforward style rather than wishy-washy fantasy, but there simply something lacking in the plot. Both times I've been disappointed to discover, at the end of the book, that that's all there is. Of course I easily forgive this because Zelazny's magnificent "Lord Of Light" was published just one year later and this book is currently No. 1 on the SF Reviews Best Books list and likely to remain there.

There is some good texture, for example:

  • the artificial affability of Render's son Peter under his parent's overprotectiveness
  • the genetically-enhanced dog Sigmund and his concerns about abandonment
  • Jill DeVille is surprisingly three-dimensional as a mere supporting character

There are some rather lyrical passages although in this novel, unlike his later works, they border on pretentious. However Zelazny's snappy dialogue more than makes up for that:

"You smell afraid" said the dog.
"Then color me afraid," said Render, "and turn the page."

Loaded on the 1st August 2003.
    
Cover of The Dream Master
Cover by John Rheaume