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Science Fiction Books/Idetifying A book on dream machines


Hi. Can you help me to identify a book I read long time ago ?

It was not a good book, but pointed to a number of dangers of addictive technologies like virtual reality.

This is a book a read more than 25 years ago and I suspect it was writtten at least 25 years before that, so somewhere in 1960's.

The protoganist lives in a world where there is an epidemic of "dream machines", machines which make people addictive to their dreams and they become junkies and disconnect from the real world to the tune that they stop eating etc - and humanity becomes almost extinct as people died by masses. A dream machine is some kind of transmission device emitting waves ( using some kind of tubes )working by stimulating nearby human brains - and can affect lots of people within a certain distance. For example, when someone is hit by a bullet on his dream or drowns, he actually dies of its consequences.

Our protoganist works for a government agency which detects active dream machines and people using them - both to save hem and put them into jail to keep the remaining people safe. He also has a best friend/co-worker he knew for a long time, his friend belongs to a certain type of people who are immune to dream machines and operate as part of a global network helping governments to keep order.

Somehow these dream machines do not affect our hero as they do for other people. During one such quest, our hero shows some different behaviour then all others and recognizes he is immune to the effects of dream machines. Soon after, he is sent to a mission to another survivor city/state away from his home city/state. He is accompanied by his long time immune friend.

Once they arrive there, his friend tries to kill him and a woman who is also immune. Then a conspiracy starts to fold : the immunes helping governments were actually a network of people who had implants that made them both immune to dream machines and gave them much longer life, and had been controlling the worlds remaining governments by leveraging their artificial immunity. It turns out they were the ones who put dream machines out and led to the fall of world by design.

When the immunes are outed like this, a war starts where the hideous network uses dream machines to kill people by creating dreams of erupting volcanoes, giant waves etc. However, our heroes create counter plans by communicating counter dreams like "imagine there is an invisible force field where the floods hit and turn back" etc ) to public, so almost no one dies in these attacks.

In the end, the heros devise dream machine that works on immunes only to attack their headquarters, and then locate the ones who fled one by one and detain them.

The mastermind turns out to be a smnall criminal out of the prison when he sees soemthign hitting ground many years ago. In the end it turns out a giant alien device was sent by some galactic civilization who reach a certain level of intelligence, this device actually contains information to build devices regardless of who asks them. the mastermind first devised an invisibility field to make the alien device only visible to himself and then uses the device to create his network of immune criminals to rule the world.

Anyhow, our heros catch the mastermind, detain him and lead him to believe that the network of immunes etc were just a dream he had using a dream machine.

Thank you very much.

Eyup Ozturk

Sorry - never read this one.  I can recommend two stories - one is about dream machines and the other a similar government agency type story.

The first is by Isaac Asimov titled Dreaming is a Private Thing, collected in the anthology Earth is Room Enough

The other is E for Effort by Thomas Sherred, in the excellent anthology  The Science Fiction Hall of Fame volume 2B (the other volumes are also highly recommended)

Please let me know if you find your story so I can read it too.

you can try hunting through this index of classic SF stories and novels.

Good luck.

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Sue Kayton


Engineer who has read thousands of science fiction books and short stories. Can recommend stories on specific subjects and comment on technical feasibility. Especially good at older out-of-print books and authors.

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