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The Lucid Dreaming / Lisa Morton

Bad Moon Books / August 2009
Reviewed by: Anthony J. Rapino

In her new novella, The Lucid Dreaming, Lisa Morton takes an apocalyptic theme and doses it with psychotics until the usual notion of the apocalypse is a mere fever dream. Inject a searing-dry wit and cynical, post-punk protagonist, and you’ve got a night terror of a tale.

Ashley, or as she prefers, Spike, is released from her cell in the Oxnard mental institution to find she is the only sane person left. Everyone she encounters is disoriented and acting peculiar. With the help of some old newspapers, she deduces that the entire world has been infected with a “dreaming sickness,” causing them to behave erratically and often violently. Being a paranoid schizophrenic, Spike is on a strict regimen of Prolixin, which she discovers is a temporary cure as it’s in the bloodstream.

Spike manages to make off with a stash of the drug and an abandoned car with the unrealistic hope she will find her friend Tommy. When this proves fruitless, she teams up with Teddy – a passive lucid-dreamer she finds outside a grocery store – and hits the road.    

On the way to their destination, they are captured by a group of rednecks in Arizona, where they are forced to work for their daily dose of Prolixin. When life on the ranch takes a turn for the worse, Spike realizes she either has to escape or become imprisoned in an endless dream state. 
While some scenarios found in The Lucid Dreaming are familiar – waking in an insane asylum to find the world has gone to pot evokes images of both 28 Days Later and In the Mouth of Madness – Morton’s new twist on an apocalyptic epidemic wrestles any familiarity from your grip and plunges you into a wholly unique experience. Add to this a cast of inimitable characters, a distinctive point of view, and genuine humor, and Morton effectively sets her tale apart from all others in this category. 

At times, the first person point of view can sap immediacy from The Lucid Dreaming. Yet with a deft hand Morton again overcomes by engulfing the reader in Spike’s thoughts and emotions. Within mere pages one is captivated, seeing the world through a violent schizophrenic’s eyes. It isn’t until the mind-bending finale that the reader will step back and truly consider the truth of the events Spike has shown them.

The Lucid Dreaming is one candy-coated pill you should swallow willingly.

Purchase The Lucid Dreaming by Lisa Morton.

Posted on Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 02:28PM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine in | Comments Off

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