In need of help to identify an author/novel...

This is the place to ask about that story you remember so well -- but can't remember the title and author.

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In need of help to identify an author/novel...

Postby Terry » Wed May 11, 2011 7:47 pm

Imagine an old man, a widower like the one in Scalzi's OLD MAN'S WAR--but not an old man who has his brain transplanted; rather, an old man who, resident in a nursing home, begins to have vivid dreams of taking part in battles between massive interstellar (maybe intergalactic) war fleets, dreams from which he awakens exhausted and confused--all the more confused when he realizes that other residents in the nursing home are beginning to have dreams similar to his. Dream and reality become blurred here in a manner akin to simulation and reality becoming blurred in Card's ENDER'S GAME.
I have thought of this novel many times since reading it, some 15 or more years ago--but (alas!) I cannot recall either its title or its author. I remember quite well how the novel ends, but don't want to describe the ending here, so as not to deprive any who might wish to read the novel of the satisfaction that the ending brings. (It is a truly wonderful novel.)
I can only hope that someone else who has read this novel, someone who has a better memory than I do, can reply with the novel's title or author. (Fingers crossed!)
Terry
 
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Re: In need of help to identify an author/novel...

Postby admin » Thu May 12, 2011 6:19 am

I can't recall the name or the author, but I'm sure I read it, in a magazine, maybe F&SF. I think it is a novela or a novelette rather than a stand alone novel, and I think it won a Hugo award. Hope this helps.
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Re: In need of help to identify an author/novel...

Postby Terry » Thu May 12, 2011 9:00 am

At least, it's a lead I had not yet pursued, and one I shall pursue next. Maybe our two notes will ring a chime with someone else, too.
In any case, thanks for your kindness in replying.

Terry
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Re: In need of help to identify an author/novel...

Postby admin » Fri May 13, 2011 7:13 am

I think I've found it; at least I've found the story I remember. It is "The Erdmann Nexus" by Nancy Kress, and won the best novella Hugo for 2009. You can find it in The Hugo Award Showcase, 2010 Volume.
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Re: In need of help to identify an author/novel...

Postby Terry » Fri May 13, 2011 8:00 am

"The Erdman Nexus" does bear a slight resemblance to the elusive novel, and I thank you for mentioning it: having just given Nancy Kress's novella a quick read, I see already that it warrants a closer read. And I think I can safely say that, if you enjoyed "The Erdmann Nexus," you will surely enjoy also the novel (and I still incline more to think novel than novella) whose author and title elude me, and that was published, I believe, in the 1990s, or maybe even a little earlier.

But for your suggestion--and for introducing me to "The Erdmann Nexus"--I thank you.
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Re: In need of help to identify an author/novel...

Postby Terry » Fri May 13, 2011 2:42 pm

Hi, "Joined: Fri Jan 21, 2005 10:24pm."

Perhaps we can draw another person or two into our dialogue, if I add the rest of what I remember (anyway, THINK I remember) about the novel in question, which is probably as likely to date from the 1980s as from the 1990s. In so doing, I will not (I believe) disincline any first-time reader from reading the book, should we ever manage to identify it. (The book is THAT good.) So, on that note...

In addition to the details that I mentioned in my first posting, consider these following points. In the novel in question, interspersed with scenes set in the nursing home, are scenes of destruction set in the depths of space, where great battle fleets are manned by beings of many worlds, beings who frequently die at their battle stations, not for lack of courage, but for lack of the kind of commanders they need. (Such commanders, we learn, are awaited from earth.) Also, toward the end of the novel, as the old man lies dying (hardly a surprise here: old men, particularly in nursing homes, DO die), during the night there appears in his room an officer in the uniform of the fleet, come to recognize the dying man for his service and to honor him for it. Is this officer's appearance merely another in a series of old man dreams (and the officer, maybe, just an imagined form of the angel of death)? Or are the officer and all the (maybe not after all imaginary) dreams the reality? This, you must decide for yourself; the author does not decide for you. And so good is this book, what you decide after a first reading may or may not be what you decide after a second reading, or a third.

The details that I've added in the above paragraph--especially the reference to scenes set in the depths of space, and to a need of awaited commanders from earth--might understandably lead someone to think of John D. MacDonald's BALLROOM OF THE SKIES (published in 1952, before MacDonald turned from science fiction to detective novels, gaining reputation for his Travis McGee character in particular). BALLROOM OF THE SKIES, though dated in many details, is still worth reading--especially if you mentally substitute China for his Pak-India, and substitute something like the 2040s for his 1970s. But BALLROOM OF THE SKIES is not the novel sought; the sought, yet-to-be-identified novel has a timelessness that MacDonald's novel lacks.

Terry
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Re: In need of help to identify an author/novel...

Postby Third Foundationer » Sun May 15, 2011 2:33 am

This sounds quite a bit like the Philip K. Dick short story "War Veteran"from 1955.

You said your story in quesiton is a novel from the 1980's or 1990's, so I don't think I am right. Still, give "Wav Veteran" a look--perhaps it inspired the novel you are thinking of.

--3rdf
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Re: In need of help to identify an author/novel...

Postby Terry » Sun May 15, 2011 8:09 am

Would 'twere so, 3rdf; but thanks for reminding me of the Dick story. When I pulled down the volume containing "War Veteran" and looked through it this morning, I was reminded how well I would do to reread all of Dick's collected short stories. What a mind he had! ("Second Variety" still has me smiling a little and shaking my head every time I think about it--even at age 70.)

I have no doubt that you would enjoy the yet-to-be-identified novel; so I hope we succeed in identifying it for your sake, too.

Terry
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Re: In need of help to identify an author/novel...

Postby Terry » Tue May 17, 2011 4:58 pm

In the event that someone who knows the author or title of the elusive novel is not a registered member of this site and has no wish to become one, such someone is welcome to email the author or title to me at tebewick@charter.net (my home email), after which I'll post the information on this site, so that anyone else interested in the novel will also be able to seek it out. (Fingers crossed!)

Terry
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Re: In need of help to identify an author/novel...

Postby admin » Tue Jan 10, 2012 8:21 am

After you helped another member find the book(s) he was looking for, I came back here to try to find the book you remember. It sounds like a great book, but not one I've read. Sorry.
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TITLE FOUND!

Postby Twick » Fri Jun 07, 2013 1:50 pm

For anyone who might still be interested, I have AT LAST identified the story and author sought now for more than two years. About two things I was wrong: number one, it is a short story, not a novel; number two, I could not have read it in the '70s or '80s, as I thought, because it was not published until 2001. (Tempus fugit; memoria fugit, also!) On the other hand, the story-line was exactly as I described it, to wit (and to quote the one-line description posted online at storypilot.com), "Nursing home residents...are thrown back into their younger bodies to fight evil aliens in a space opera world." The story is titled "The Gift of a Dream," authored by Dean Wesley Smith, published in PAST IMPERFECT (2001), edited by Martin Greenberg (one of his many themed anthologies published only in paperback).
More recently, in 2011, Smith wrote a sequel to "The Gift of a Dream." The sequel, really another short story, is published as very thin BOOK form, and is available from Amazon.com in paperback form or as a Kindle ebook. Titled HAND AND SPACE, it is less memorable than the original story, but it is still well worth the read, if only because it explains a little background detail not found in the first story. The sequel--in contrast to the original--suggests that the events in the story are REALLY happening, rather than maybe happening ONLY in the MIND of the old man. But even if that is what Smith wants his readers to incline to believe, it doesn't much matter, at least at this point: partly it doesn't really much matter because sequels rarely deserve to be taken so seriously as originals, partly because Smith intends to base more stories upon these two, but mostly because what an author brings to a story is always less important than what a reader--based upon his/her own experience (sometimes greater than the author's, and more insightful)--carries away from the story.

Thanks to all of you who joined in the search, and who mentioned some other worthwhile titles along the way; thanks also to those of you who visited the posting, and who would have helped if you could have.

Terry (re-registered as Twick)
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