Science Fiction Book Review

Sleepwalker's World

by Gordon R. Dickson
Reviewed date: 2023 Feb 2
Rating: 1
158 pages
cover art

Core Taps and the Soporific Effect
This isn't revealed up front, but parceled out in bits throughout the story: the severely overpopulated Earth has solved its energy crisis by tapping into the energy at the Earth's core. The Core Taps transmit power to the factories that produce food and the necessities of life. The only problem is the soporific side effect of the transmissions. The transmissions put everyone to sleep. So the Core Taps only transmit at night while everyone sleeps except for a few immune "zombies" who roam while the world slumbers.

Rafe Harald: super-smart, super-strong, super-fast
Rafe Harald is on the Moon training to be part of the Far Star Project. The Core Taps are only a stop-gap solution. What mankind needs is new frontiers, and the Far Star Project will find new planets for people to colonize. Rafe senses a problem, a conspiracy, and he stuffs Far Star Project Director Martin Pu-Li into a locker and then heads down to Earth to unravel the mystery. He gets a meeting with UN Marshall Bill Forebringer and Power Broadcast Control Board chairman Pao Gallot. He accuses them of conspiring with Martin Pu-Li to sabotage the Far Star Project and of using the soporific effect of the Core Taps to make themselves dictators.

He also accuses them of kidnapping his old friend Ab Leesing.

Forbringer and Gallot try to arrest him, but Rafe is super-smart and super-strong and super-fast, so he kidnaps them instead. Rafe lets them go and finds his way to Ab Leesing's house where he meets Ab's sister Gabrielle (Gaby) and a wolf named Lucas. The wolf talks. Ab set him up with an implant before he disappeared. Rafe, Gaby, and Lucas set off to find and rescue Ab.

There's a lot of dumb stuff. Rafe learns to think with his under-mind which lets him resist the soporific effect of the power broadcast and stay awake. It also gives him telepathy, the ability to heal super-fast, and a glimpse into a spiritual realm. The group ends up in the secret headquarters of Shaitan, a grotesque man who claims to be the malevolent mind behind the conspiracy. Shaitan has been manipulating world events and intends to rule the world. Shaitan also claims to be immortal and various other things. Unfortunately for Shaitan his mind control powers don't work on wolves so Lucas kills him.

Thebom Shankar, The Old Man of the Mountain
The real power wasn't Shaitan, it is Thebom Shankar, the real Old Man of the Mountain. Shankar is a spirit or a man or something. He's lived for millennia. He claims to have been Homer. With the power of his mind Shankar holds Rafe, Gaby, Ab Leesing, Martin Pu-Li, Forebringer, and Gallot immobilized.

Rafe goes into his under-mind to resist Shankar. He attacks. Shankar kills him.

Rafe wakes up. Shankar is dead. Rafe killed Shankar after Shanker killed him. Rafe is confused, and wonders about life and death and what really happened to him and to Shankar.

This book is so, so dumb.

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