01/09/2009. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: TOR/Forge. 302 page small hardback. Price: $24.95 (US), $27.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-7653-0610-4.
check out website: www.tor-forge.com
You might even have experienced this yourself. When you're asleep and dreaming, do you suddenly realise you're in a dream and start going off in different tangents exploring? This is called lucid dreaming and is the premise of 'The Houses Of Time' by Jamil Nasir.
David Grant can do this but needs some training and attends the Trans-Humaist Institute and soon can't tell the difference between being awake and dreaming. A lot of the time, we can't neither. Fortunately, actually Grant can. The small print or details don't stay constant being the main giveaway.
He also finds he's being prepped for a mission to send greetings to the Divine Presence of the universe by the Caucasus Synod of the Western Orthodox Church, which is behind the Institute. With such manipulation, Grant is not a happy man and makes demands of his own.
For the most part this story is an interesting read as you follow Grant's life but the mission sort of unwinds at the end so you're not really sure what is achieved. I think the problem there is the even-handedness of the third person narrative because it divorces itself too much from the emotional content towards the end and doesn't feel like any significant life-changing experience happened. Grant might not have known what was going on but the reader needs to know things changed for the better. Had Nasir raised the game at the end, things might have been improved considerably.
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA