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Pearl Barley aka C M Donaldson

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The AL-EX Project (ALternative EXistence)
by Pearl Barley aka C M Donaldson   

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Science Fiction

Publisher:  C.M. Donaldson ISBN-10:  B00CIG49QA Type: 


Copyright:  March 21, 2013 ISBN-13:  9781291346824

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Science fiction in its lightest form

The AL-EX Project (ALternative EXistence) is my first foray into light science fiction, written under the name of C M Donaldson (my real name) with a tale that tells of what happens when our main character aims to explore the dream state and manipulate his dreams and control them. Unethical and extremely dangerous, pushing the boundaries, Alex is unstoppable when his explorations become an obsession.

Who wouldn't like to go back into their dreams at will and speak to the type of characters you wouldn't normally encounter in real life. For that matter, what is real and what is fantasy? Talk about blurred lines!

It was a huge amount of fun writing this novel and I want it noted that the dreams described in the story-telling are dreams I've actually had, so it made it easier all round to use real authentic dreams that weren't made up for the book although I may have modified them slightly (obviously describing some of the details from a male perspective). So if they seem weird and quirky, well, dreams usually are, aren't they?

Also available in paperback!

The AL-EX Project (ALternative EXistence) Testing the limits of dream control

See below what one reader says about this trip into unknown territory

 Reviewed 18/3/15

Dreams. Just what are dreams? Why do we have them? What do they mean? Are they simply a method through which the subconscious processes the events of that day? Or are they something more? These are the questions that Alex and his friend The Scientist seek to answer. But how far are they willing to go with their unethical experiments?

With the aid of drug-induced sleep, Alex subjects himself to experiments to try and understand the recurring dreams he has; all monitored by his trusted friend The Scientist. Why does that white lion keep appearing? The duo remarkably manage to record the images of Alex’s dreams as they happen. Seeing that we forget most of our dreams when we awaken, this is a massive breakthrough! How great it would be if we could watch our dreams back as easily as watching a movie! Their ambitions for what can be achieved in the dream state continue to grow, until tragedy strikes.

Of late, Alex has been neglecting his wife Kay-Johanna in the pursuit of scientific success. Then a horrible event befalls Kay-Johanna, and the couple lose touch with each other. Alex’s guilt pushes him into the supposed comfort of alcohol, and the experiments stop. But with time, Alex and The Scientist rebuild the bridge between them, and together they overcome the obstacles to get back to work. However – unknown to Alex – The Scientist has already enlisted someone else to replace Alex as the guinea pig in the experiment; someone that Alex knows extremely well indeed!

The author has demonstrated great knowledge of the research into dreams, which adds great depth to the story and is a feature that I enjoyed. The passion she has for the mystery of dreams is evident throughout the novel. Moreover, she has built a powerful foundation from a solid background for each of the main characters; I learned and understood where the undying enthusiasm for their research has come from. The characters felt like real people, and I empathized with the pain and suffering they endured in this novel. Their blindness to the damage that can be caused by the increasingly dangerous combinations of drugs used in their search for knowledge is a gamble I’m sure many scientists have contemplated, and serves as a stark warning to the dangers of experimentation with the unknown.

It had been a long night. It was now nearing dawn and the sleeping drug was beginning to wear off, although Alex still felt slightly groggy. In order to get into a deep sleep conducive to dreaming, Alex had been taking an experimental drug similar to a sleeping tablet, but infinitely stronger, and subject to the strictest rules regarding its use. Too much and basically it was all over! Exact doses meticulously monitored made sure there was never a ‘worst-case-scenario’. “We’re making great progress”, said The Scientist, still scrutinising the screen and making notes. “We’re getting clearer pictures every time.

We couldn’t control how long you slept before waking before, and now we can wake you with an alarm at any given point in any half hour after you’ve fallen asleep, and we can pin-point where you are in any given dream. We still can’t control who you can conjure up while you’re ‘out of it’ as such, but that will come and I’m truly amazed! And if it wasn’t for the recordings, you wouldn’t remember a thing” He was beaming as he continued. “This result goes straight to the board of directors as soon as possible, I’ll arrange a meeting, as soon as…and we can then start the next phase of the experiment with these findings and hopefully receive a big fat cheque in the way of badly-needed additional funding”.

Alex, still a little unsteady on his feet, nodded in agreement. He stared up at the screens, watching the hazy figures moving across on an equally hazy background, and immediately started to remember. Watching himself helped his recall enormously. It felt like when you’ve seen an old film but you can’t remember the ending until a few minutes in and then it all comes back to you.

Professional Reviews

By Matthew Keith on February 12, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition *****
Absolutely loved this book, amazing premise and good pacing throughout. Characters were well developed and continued developing throughout. Would definitely recommend.

By KINDLE BOOK REVIEW ***** on September 21 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a very interesting novel. The reader enters a dream world for the story of Alex and The Scientist. They are looking at the possibility of manipulating dreams and nightmares. I was intrigued by the storyline, felt it was unusual and thought the mix of romance and science fiction was well handled. The two different relationships, between Alex and The Scientist and Alex and Kayj his wife were very well written.
It has been well researched and entwined with a vivid imagination and excellent storytelling it is a page turning novel with a surprise ending. In the alternative world of dreams and nightmares the descriptions in the novel took me right into the laboratory. Donaldson creates a scientific sense of time and place. The dialogue is believable and we get to know the characters well in their search for answers.

By Misscsolo ***** on April 2 2014
Alex is a brilliant scientist with a brilliant mind full of curiosity. When the opportunity presented itself to work with The Scientist George, Alex jumped at the chance. Along came Kay-Johanna, the woman which would become Alex's wife and life was now just grand. The project that Alex was working on with The Scientist hit home because Alex had been having bad dream or night terrors since he was a small child after the death of his parents and then again later in life so to see dream analysis was totally fascinating to them both. But how would they do it and would it work? And if it worked what would they do with the information they obtained from the research? Would this be ground-breaking or detrimental to the test subjects life? Only time would tell. The AL-EX Project is sci-fi fantasy but who knows what the future holds, it could very well become reality. It is a very interesting book with the cast of characters that are interwoven in the story because you have characters from the dreams involved in the story and some of them play a reoccurring role in the lives of the characters. CM Donaldson writes a very captivating story that doesn't even feel like sci-fi. This is my first encounter with Donaldson but it is NOT my last.

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Reader Reviews for "The AL-EX Project (ALternative EXistence)"

Reviewed by Helen Mc Nally 3/23/2013
An Excellent read, i could'nt put the book down untill id read it from cover to cover -- a fantastic read especially if you ever wonder about your dreams. I was laughing, sad, pitying and willing things to happen -- very well researched, and loved the Author's comical additions. Enough said, - READ IT - you will love it. It's a totally different book the Author has written in comparison to the first two. That, in my case, is why i think how versatile the Author is. Very refreshing in that we really don't know what the next one will bring -- which keeps things fresh every time. Well done on a Fantastic piece of work

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