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Sleepwalkers' World
By Gordon R. Dickson

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Sleepwalkers' World

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Sleepwalkers' World
By Gordon R. Dickson
Thorndike Press, Large Print Edition: 2002
ISBN: 0-7862-4338-4
Genre: Science Fiction

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - January 14, 2003

The World has been harvested. Core taps provide an unlimited source of energy, enabling the factories to produce enough food for everyone. No more energy crisis, nor more famines, nuclear disarmament has been achieved, and overpopulation is no longer a threat. Peach reigns supreme and all is well with the world. Well, not quite. The power generated by the core taps is transmitted by high-power energy beams that have an unintended side effect - they put everyone to sleep during the transmission process.

The sleep induced by the beams is anything but peaceful and they have the added side affect of causing people to live in a stuporous state when they are awake.

Living on the moon, Rafael "Rafe" Arnoul Harald is unaffected by the beams - at least as long as he stays on the moon. A cosmonaut in the Far-Star Project, Harald is simply waiting for some final engineering details to be worked out so that he and his fellow cosmonauts can set out on their voyage of discovery. However, Harald soon becomes suspicious that nothing is being done to further the Project Far-Star. In part this is because Abner "Ab" Carmody Leesing, a biophysicist that Harald had recommended to the project was rejected without cause. Why would they turn down the services of the one man who might be able solve the problems holding back the project? When Harald finds out that Leesing has 'gone missing' he sneaks back to Earth to try to figure out what is going on.

From the moment that Harald sets off on his quest, there are several factions on his trail. To survive, he must use his wits to keep one step ahead of those who are out to catch him. His initial goal is to find Leesing. To this end he tracks down Leesing's sister Gabrielle, only to discover that she was paralyzed from the waist down. Her injury occurred when she was in a car accident, the night of the first power broadcast. Now she is confined to an upright cylinder that acts as a mobile wheelchair. Gabrielle joins Harald on his quest to find her brother, but at first he is not sure how whether she will be more of a help or a hindrance. However, he has little choice in the matter. He has put her life in danger by contacting her, and he is unwilling to leave her behind - not that she would have let him even he had wanted to. Gabrielle will be more help than Harald could ever imagine, in part because she brings with her an unexpected companion, Lucas, a talking and sentient wolf.

This unlikely trio embarks upon a fast paced race to not only find Leesing, but also to discover whether the "power's that be" are letting the world die. To complicate matters, they quickly uncover what appears to be a shadow power controlling the Earth's destiny. Thebom Shankar, also known as the Shaitan, is supposed to be a mythical figure, but is he? And if he is controlling 'things', can he be stopped?

Sleepwalkers' World, by Gordon R. Dickson is a fast-paced novel that asks the question, "What price paradise?"

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