Science fiction and fantasy
by Christian R. Bonawandt
One of those dreamers is George Delgado, whose mind opens a portal from the world he dreams about into this one. People are divided into dreamers, who are able to dream other worlds into existence and may even be able to travel between them, and everyone else. Non-dreamers are nothing but figments of the dream, and they don't exist outside it. Dreamers can harness dream energy to give them enhanced powers, once they learn how to. The peculiar ideas behind this multiverse lead, as you might imagine, to plenty of disorienting weirdness. If you enjoyed Jeff Noon's Vurt or Pollen you should find this story sufficiently offbeat for your tastes.
Rothin is a villain who seems to be modelled on Sephiroth of the Final Fantasy series: very tall, good with swords, long white hair, and a moral code that dictates "cause as much trouble and suffering as possible". Driven to madness, he's known as the "Dream Killer" by his pursuers because of his penchant for destruction. Rothin is both arrogant and attention-seeking, taunting Del Gato as he plays a cat and mouse game, and waiting around so that they never actually lose the trail.
Originally Del Gato follows Rothin because catching homicidal maniacs is his job. But he continues for reasons that even he doesn't fully understand. He is not obliged to carry on the chase in order to protect all dreamkind, because other dream-walkers join him in hunting Rothin. There are a lot of scenes that involve pursuit and fighting, but this lack of a clear purpose makes them all that bit less compelling.
This is a very masculine story of honour, revenge, bravery and bloodshed, with a bare minimum of touchy-feely soul-searching involved. At 138 pages it's fairly short, but Bonawandt is a compact writer who soon carries the reader into his world of dreams within dreams. Unfortunately the ending comes all too abrubtly. It works, but it would have been nice to have a few loose ends tied up, and to dwell a little longer on what happened and why. The ending doesn't make it clear whether or not there will be a sequel, or if this is intended to be a stand-alone book. What is clear is that this is a promising debut from Christian Bonawandt, and if you enjoy hack-and-slash fantasy with a different twist then look forward to the right sort of rapid eye movement when you read this.
If you like this, try:Pollen by Jeff Noon
This is the very strange sequel to Vurt.