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Captive Dreams Paperback – August 31, 2012
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(5 Star Review) Captive Dreams is not a short fiction collection or a fix-up in the usual sense. Some of the stories herein were previously published, others were written for this volume. The character set is the same for each story regardless of which characters appear in any given stories. What makes this volume unique is that one neighborhood is the setting, and all the characters in the stories live in that neighborhood. Flynn has also added afterwords for each story which describe how he came to write each piece, a great way of answering the standard question, Where do you get your ideas?
Flynn has created a fictional work from disparate parts that feels homogenous. Melodies of the Heart establishes the milieu and the tone of all the stories in its recounting of a part-time doctor at a retirement home who thinks he finds a key to unlock the chains of his daughter's illness in an older resident s memories. The title story is a deeply affecting meditation on how parents of handicapped children can grow too attached to their child's handicap instead of the child. Buried Hopes focuses on a foreign-born member of the shared neighborhood who finds himself in need of psychological counseling. It's an intriguing tangent from the aliens live next door trope that shows how devastating homesickness can be if allowed to grow, and what the outsider might do to improve its mental state.
As Flynn notes in the Afterword to the Afterwords, the stories in Captive Dreams share a common ambience of deep melancholy and terrible ambiguity. Each story reflects the human element of scientific advancements, the good and bad of breakthrough treatments, programs to improve the human body and mind, the persistence of the mind after physical death, and other what-ifs often found in science fiction. Captive Dreams represents an alternative to fix-ups that works very well. --Janine Stinson, Foreword Reviews
In the final Afterword to the Afterwords , Flynn writes, I am not a critic, least of all of my own stories. He is too modest. In the individual Afterwords he not only footnotes the various speculative ideas but underlines and reinforces the stories thematic and structural features and notes the various conditions and influences that went into their making. His accounts of how he wrote and rewrote them show how well he does the essential writerly job of self-criticism, and his reflections on how they work and what they say are as thoughtful and perceptive as one could wish of any commentator. Come to think of it, a decent analytical review could be assembled from the Afterwords, thus making my job pretty much unnecessary. I suppose modesty and good manners prevent Flynn from the final function of the reviewer, which is to make a recommendation, which I provide herewith: I enjoyed half of these stories years ago on first reading them, and I enjoyed encountering them again, along with their new companions and their creator's thoughts on their creation. I think I will not be alone in that. --Russell Letson, Locus Magazine
About the Author
Eifelheim (Nominated for Hugo Novel)
The Forest of Time (Nominated for Hugo Novella)
In the Country of the Blind (Won Prometheus & Compton Crook Awards)
Fallen Angels (with Niven/Pournelle: Won Prometheus and Seiun Awards).
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
This quirk isn't what makes the collection great, though. These stories explore solid science fiction themes, such as nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, extended lifespans, and alien visitors. At the same time the stories explore hard decisions, strained relationships, and the deep pains of being human. In one of this story "afterwards," the author notes, "These stories share more than a neighborhood. They share a common ambiance of deep melancholy and terrible ambiguity." Each afterward is also a great reading experience. They offer chances for the author to explore ideas from the stories without risk of spoiling them.
It's impossible to pick favorites. Here's a little about each one:
"Melodies of the Heart" is superficially about an old woman recovering memories of the past and her doctor who is trying to understand them. The characters are flawed, but likeable and the narrative is textured and believable. The writing is superb.
"Captive Dreams" shows us the struggle of a single mother to care for her son, whose senses deliver unsynchronized messages to his brain. Once understood, this condition can be corrected. This requires difficult decisions about how to proceed.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Interesting concepts addressed. Well written series of stories with author's commentary in between the stories. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Matt
Captive Dreams (2012) is the third SF collection by the author, following [ASIN:160450479X The Forest of Time and Other Stories]]. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Arthur W Jordin