More dream than memory the inextricable link between fiction and dreaming : a novella, "Daydreams of empty skies," together with a critical essay presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters in Creative Writing at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand
There is a clear and inextricable link between dreaming and fiction. Because of the way REM-
sleep dreaming functions, as a hyper-creative state, dreams often serve as the source of
inspiration for many authors. Dreaming is also, as one of the most central and yet mysterious
aspects of the human experience, commonly used as a plot device or theme in multiple genres
of fiction. Furthermore, in terms of how it works in the brain, the experience of reading fiction
is remarkably similar to that of a dream.
The critical essay argues the above and investigates the use of dream-related themes
and devices in Banana Yoshimoto’s Asleep (1989) and Ursula Le Guin’s The Lathe of Heaven
(1971). The three short stories that comprise Asleep each take place in a transitional period
in each of the respective protagonists’ lives, and the protagonist is required to confront and
come to terms with the past in order to escape this dreamlike limbo. The Lathe of Heaven
protagonist George Orr’s ability to change reality via his dreams is reflective of the fluctuating
dreaming/creative process itself: it is only once Orr loses this ability that he is able to escape
the entangled dreams and realities.
In the novella, Daydreams of Empty Skies, the protagonist, Astra, finds that her dreams
are direct reproductions of her memories. She is recruited to be part of an experiment by
Tenjin, a researcher, in Tokyo, Japan. Throughout the story Astra finds the divisions between
dream, memory, and reality becoming increasingly thin, and by the end it is unclear whether
or not she has escaped this state of being. The novella, in its form and construction, is much
like a lucid dream itself—a point which is enlarged upon in the essay.