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Tower of Dreams
Jamil Nasir
Bantam Spectra Books, 231 pages

Art: Bruce Jensen
Tower of Dreams
Jamil Nasir
Jamil Nasir is the author of Quasar and The Higher Space.

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Past Feature Reviews
A review by A.L. Sirois

Science fiction, as a genre, has over the past 70 or so years been defined primarily by white males, on both sides of the counter. As the world becomes more interconnected, that is beginning to change. I'm not sure a mass market house like Bantam would have looked at Tower of Dreams 20 years ago. That would have been a shame, because this is a good novel, though somewhat subversive of the values of Western "civilization." It reminds me of some of John Brunner's work.

Blaine Ramsey is an Image digger, a "sensitive" (though there is no whiff of psi power per se attached to him) who immerses himself in the cultures of his ancestors in the name of American advertising. In so doing he mines his dreams for exotic archetypal images that can be used to attract attention in an increasingly jaded global marketplace. Through the use of sophisticated electronics he captures and refines the images, then sends them off to the main office for inclusion into advertising campaigns.

While working in Jordan, Blaine experiences a startling and disturbing recurrent dream, unusually vivid and real even for him. They centre on a lovely young girl whom he encounters in a beautiful garden. In the dream she is attacked and beaten by unseen assailants. Blaine simply can't get her out of his mind. When images from his dreams begin appearing in the real world, he fears he may be going mad.

He soon finds out that the dream girl's physical duplicate also exists: She is a drug-sodden Egyptian actress named Aida, living in Cairo. Despite warnings and against his own better judgement, Blaine can't help himself, and goes to Cairo to seek her out. Is Aida really human? Or is she the harbinger of yaum ed din, Judgement Day, sent by Allah to warn mankind to mend its ways?

Blaine's quest takes him through some of the worst slums on 21st-century Earth, among the diseased and deformed people who live in horribly polluted conditions. He follows the trail to fortress-like luxury penthouses, where decadent glitterati party endlessly and flit back and forth inside VTOL hovercars while the ancient, earthquake-racked city beneath them sinks deeper and deeper into despair and sorrow.

With rich characterizations in a grimly drawn but all-too-likely near-future, Tower of Dreams explores the landscape of the Jungian collective unconscious. It's a challenging book. Although it gets off to a slow start, for those readers who stick with it Jamil Nasir's third novel is a rewarding, thought-provoking experience not to be taken lightly.

Copyright © 1999 by A.L. Sirois

A.L. Sirois walks the walk, too. He's a longtime member of SFWA and currently serves the organization as webmaster for the SFWA BULLETIN. His personal site is at

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