Sunday, 30 October 2016

'What Dreams May Come'

Today's story in Michael Eisele's The Girl with the Peacock Harp takes a classic theme and re-works it to interesting effect. Fritz Leiber, Charles Beaumont, and James Thurber are just three authors who tackled the idea of the dream that is more real than mundane reality. But in all those cases the dream proved deadly to the dreamer. Things are rather different here.

In the blurb Eisele's tale is summed up thus: '‘What Dreams May Come’ moves the scene to modern day Manhattan, as an advertising executive is haunted by dreams of a giant raptor.' This is true but also slightly misleading, as the executive in question in a divorced woman in a man's world who finds her dream-life as a female bird of prey far more acceptable than her job. She takes delight in flight, predation, and her high status as  a female in a quasi-matriarchal culture.

Whether her other self is in a parallel universe, some remote epoch of our world, or perhaps another planet is not clear. What we can be sure of is that her ending resembles that of Beaumont's protagonist in his tale of the same name (as seen in Season 1 of The Twilight Zone). But it's by no means clear that this is someone cracking up under pressure. The narrative dream of power and status may indeed be the opposite of escapist.

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