DEATH BY DREAMING
By JON MANCHIP WHITE
An interesting entry in the dream craze of the eighties, when it seemed every
other horror-themed book and movie involved dreams. That explains why DEATH BY
DREAMING, despite a plethora of enthusiastic critical notices, got lost in the
shuffle and is all-but forgotten today. It deserves to be rediscovered.
Itís an ingeniously constructed account centered on a futuristic dream
therapy clinic. The place was created by a scientist named Paul, who is using
his psychically endowed wife Helen to cure peoplesí neuroses by sending her into
their dreams and righting wrongs therein. Helen was once the lover of Robert,
the protagonist, who as the book opens is summoned to the dream lab on urgent
That business, it turns out, involves the Dutchman, a wealthy industrialist
caught up in a terrifying dream from which he canít awake. Helen has been sent
in to bring him out but is now trapped in the dream world herself. This leaves
Robert, whose consciousness is injected into the dream to rescue the other two.
What makes this tale so oddly compelling is the way itís told in reverse
chronological order. Weíre immediately thrust into the dream in which Robert
and Helen are trapped, a dark, ever-shifting universe of jagged cliffs,
scattered bones, exposed organs and marauding subhuman invaders, with the
details of the narrative doled out over the course of the book.
The dream is well described, and, unlike many attempts at rendering the
workings of the subconscious in prose, actually feels dreamlike. This isnít an
entirely good thing, alas, because as we all know there are few things duller
than listening to the particulars of somebody elseís dreams. But the book works
because of the gradually revealed story, which grows increasingly urgent until
an unexpected crisis occurs. By that point, however, the line between dream and
reality has become thoroughly blurred...which seems to be the authorís primary
Jon Manchip White has written many unique thrillers over the years (NIGHTCLIMBER,
THE GAME OF TROY), but none wilder than DEATH BY DREAMING, which melds undiluted
surrealism and eccentric adventure into an intriguing and wholly original mix.
Iíd strongly advise tracking this obscure book down--you wonít be disappointed.