Flashback Fridays: I’ll see you in my dreams . . .

You’re a kid who starts having the same strange dream night after night.  Something about a ferris wheel, and a little kid running and some kind of danger.  Then you find out you’re not the only one having this dream . . .

Do you remember:

Into the Dream by William Sleator (Puffin, c1979)

It sometimes surprises me how many books from my childhood were the works of William Sleator.  He was one of the authors who knew just how to combine weirdly science-fictional or horrific sorts of aspects with an exiting story structures and compelling characters.

In this story, Paul has a recurring dream, or maybe more of a nightmare about a small boy in trouble.  He thinks at first it’s just an odd dream, but then he finds out his classmate Francine is having the same exact dream.  Details like the ferris wheel in the background help to confirm that it is the same dream .. . and that maybe it’s something more than a dream.  Is someone or something reaching out to them for help?  These two kids have to band together to solve the mystery in time and save the boy they’re both dreaming about from a horrifying reality.  Telepathy, aliens, shared dreaming, government agents . . . this book has all the great 80’s tropes that made me love this kind of wild science fiction adventure.  True to much of the SF of the day, Francine and Paul are fairly ordinary everyday kids who get involved in something extraordinary.    It was the kind of adventure that made “kid” me think and wonder if such things could be in store just around the corner and hopeful that maybe they were.

I loved mystery science fiction like this as a kid, and sometimes I think it left me well primed for watching the X-Files in my young adult years, enjoying the thrill once again of the secret conspiracies, the mysterious clues, the evidence of amazing stuff being covered up.  This is probably one of Sleator’s most trope heavy books out of what he’s written.  But for all that, it’s a great tale for the early science fiction reader who craves a bit of a thrill with their stories.  Shared dreaming was such a neat concept to explore–the idea that you and another person in the world could be sharing the same particular dream at the same time–and that maybe you could even interact with each other in it.   Sleator  wrote fantastic horror as well as science fiction for middle grade and young adult audiences.  He’s probably most well-known for House of Stairs: A YA dystopian story that I still think tops the original volume of The Mazerunner.  In middle grade, his Interstellar Pig science fiction tale of aliens heavily invested in a crazy game that they’ll do anything to win is still a regular presence on the shelves.

Sleator was one of the writers who helped raise the bar on kid’s SF and bring new fans to the fold in the last century.  With his stand-alone volumes, exciting plotlines and inclusion of all sorts of science fictional concepts, I can’t help but wish there were more books like his being published today.  Perhaps, with the slow build of SF I’m seeing, we’ll see these more of these kinds of stories in years to come!

Comments Welcome!

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About Stephanie Whelan

I'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.

Posted on September 7, 2015, in Flashback Fridays, General Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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