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Planet Dreams
Michaela Carlock
Keswick House, 317 pages

Planet Dreams
Michaela Carlock
Michaela Carlock grew up in Kansas City and attended college on the East Coast. She has worked as a professional shopper, a carpenter in Colorado, an office temp and film crew member in Manhattan, and a freelance writer in Northern California. She lives in California with her husband and house lizard.

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Excerpt: Planet Dreams
Keswick House

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Lisa DuMond

Imagine the best of all possible worlds, then the worst of all possible worlds. Unless you're into hate crimes or picture yourself living at the Playboy mansion, the mental pictures are probably close enough to the two settings for Planet Dreams. A future where mankind has benefited from an alien virus, using their new powers and outlooks to make the world a peaceful, cooperative, rural paradise. A polluted, ultra-violent, dystopia where life for most citizens has been reduced to mindless drudgery and the constant threat of pain or death.

Two worlds, and the only bridge between them consists of dreams of startling clarity.

That's enough of the plot. You don't need me to fill you in on this one; once you read the first two chapters, you'll race through this novel as fast as I did. It's completely irresistible. It's a compulsion of the nicest kind. One of those books you know long before you finish that you plan to read again.

What is it that makes this first novel such a pleasure? Michaela Carlock possesses a gift for characterization reminiscent of Fay Weldon, one of the best. Carlock takes you into the hearts and minds of Astrid and Judy and the friends and foes who surround them and puts you there beside them -- and puts them in your heart.

The "nightmare" world is one the reader wants to help, or put it out of its misery. Certainly, it is a place no one would willingly visit, much less inhabit full-time. Although not entirely unique in the vast library of science fiction and fantasy, it is so vividly rendered, it seems a new horror to contemplate.

The "dream" world is where we all want to be. If it existed, I wouldn't bother packing and you'd never get a forwarding address out of me. Let's not even mention two-weeks' notice; it ain't going to happen. But Michaela Carlock doesn't allow her powers of creation to overwhelm her sense of balance. Astrid's existence is not in Fantasyland or on the Good Ship Lollipop, it's a possible place. True, humans being humans, it's a place that is unlikely ever to develop. A world like this would take work and harmony -- two resources mankind has yet to learn to supply in quantity.

Michaela Carlock is a thinking writer, and a caring one. The kind of talent that is being recognized primarily by the small press these days. Planet Dreams is a novel with a conscience and a message. Keswick House is a publisher concerned with larger issues than big bucks and bestsellers. If there's any justice in this world, Michaela Carlock and Keswick House will have both on their hands.

Copyright © 1998 Lisa DuMond

Lisa DuMond writes science fiction and humour. She co-authored the 45th anniversary issue cover of MAD Magazine. Previews of her latest, as yet unpublished, novel are available at Hades Online.

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