...are made of weird
released 21 september 320 pages | paperback/ebook
Author tricia sullivan Publisher Gollancz
Just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean your dreams aren’t out to get you.
It takes dreamhacker Charlie Aaron a while to realise this, because she’s not by nature a paranoid person. Indeed, she’s so trusting that she gets nicknamed Pollyanna, and by her own admission she’s not very observant. The latter she can’t help; after taking part in a mysterious (in other words, clearly dodgy) clinical trial, she’s developed narcolepsy and now falls asleep when stressed.
Unfortunately, given that Charlie’s job sees her tangling with a shady corporation, running from a creepy dream invader, and getting interrogated in a kebab shop by the dream police after one of her clients sleepwalks to death, stress comes with the territory.
There’s always been a touch of dream logic to Sullivan’s work, even if Maul – with its hilariously, horrifically violent girl-gang shoot-out at a cosmetics counter – was the kind of dream you have after eating too much cheese. Her plots don’t so much twist as coil like capricious and possibly malevolent springs that periodically snap back in your face. Sweet Dreams is less off-the-wall, but its narcoleptic heroine is a great device for moving the action forward in disorientating jumps, and the city she visits in dreams is gleefully odd, if in a lower-key way than Sullivan readers might expect.
Instead, the book has a quieter strength: Charlie’s journey from pawn (of plots she can’t see, and clients she can’t afford to turn down) to player. Caught up in a murder mystery conspiracy thriller, she has to face down her fears, and take control of both dreams and real life. Ends are left dangling, but Charlie’s tale – which makes excellent use of its near-future London setting to ramp up her social and financial vulnerabilities – is always a satisfying one. Nic Clarke
In her acknowledgments, Sullivan thanks Eurythmics’s Annie Lennox “for the songs that inspired this story”.
Plots coil and snap back like springs