I’m not actually sure ‘Lathe of Heaven’ counts as science fiction. Yes, there are eventually aliens and spaceships, but it feels more to me like fantasy which at points tips into dark existential horror. Certainly, it’s a unique work. I can’t recall ever reading anything quite like it.
In the future (actually its set in 2002, but really it’s the future) an unobtrusive, nebbish man dreams dreams which have the power to alter the whole of reality. Doctors believing he is merely delusional, send him to a dream doctor, who decides to use his patient’s talents to his own end.
Undoubtedly some of the prose and some of the dialogue is stilted, but I did find myself genuinely gripped by it. It’s not a thriller, but such is the labyrinthine and unpredictable nature of its plot, that there are thrills and surprises here even as its tone stays downbeat and introspective.
Plus it has the great quote – “On top of pique, umbrage, and ennui. Oh, the French diseases of the soul.” Which – full disclosure – I’ll probably try to steal in it my own writing one day. <insert smiley face here>