The Lathe Of Heaven – – Ursula K. Le Guin
My Rating – Must Read
Level – Moderate read, short
Sometime in the future a man is caught using someone else’s pharmacy card for access to sleeping pills. He is evaluated and sent to a psychologist and sleep specialist to whom he reveals that he is afraid to dream. He hesitates but eventually admits his fear is due to the fact that his dreams change waking life. Not only does it change real life, but it changes all reality. If he goes to sleep and there are seven billion people in the world and dreams there are now only one billion, for everyone left, there will only have been a billion people for some time.
He essentially creates a parallel reality and new timeline that even changes the people’s past. The twist comes when the doctor becomes aware of the change, due to be present during the dreaming. The man suspects the doctor is using his dreams to change the world and seeks the help of an attorney. The rest of the story is his struggle in the changing world while dealing with the doctor. I’ll leave it there so as not to spoil any of the story.
This book is crazy, and is probably the only fiction book I’ve ever read that had be flipping back and rereading parts. I found this book so entertaining that I put off catching up on Game of Thrones and stayed up late one night to finish it. As always, there are some unintentionally humorous moments that come from a book written decades ago that takes place in the ‘future’ that is in our current past. There is major fear that in 2002 there would be over seven billion people on earth. This would lead to overcrowding, food shortages, and environmental disaster. There were only three billion people at the time, and almost 40 year prior, it had been two billion, so the idea that we’d more than double in the next 40 was probably inconceivable. Here is an interesting article to get a context on the time in which the book was written – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3777609/
Anyone looking for some good fiction to read this summer must get this book. If you are interested in things like dreams or alternate time realities, you’ll certainly enjoy this book.