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“The year is 2011 and Samuel Elmsmore is adrift in the universe. After a series of breakdowns he awakens as a virtual prisoner in a hostel for the mentally ill. He’s estranged from his family and friends, and is jobless after an unfortunate incident with an axe. He’s also lost much of his memory and sense of identity and is about to learn that the government is monitoring him as a suspected terrorist.As he wanders the streets of a vast metropolis, the ghouls of his past start to merge with the nightmare creatures of a society turned predatory. He encounters a surreal band of activists, musicians and street-people. Among them is Annie, a strange woman who seems to know everything about everybody. Does she hold the key to his past?”
* Musical Offshoot: Listen to Summer Aliens, a techno 'DDP theme piece' based on one of the chapters of DDP. Copyright Ian Irvine 2005-2010, all rights reserved. File format: MP3. File Size: 4meg approx.
Preview of Dream-Dust Parasites at Google books online (limited preview).
Theme Summary: Dream-Dust Parasites (DDP) is a landmark novel by Ian Hobson, Australian writer and expert on postmodern forms of alienation. DDP dissects the current Australian/Western dis-ease and poses important questions about the future – extrapolating forward from current trends. DDP is a novel that poses important questions about the difficulty of maintaining an identity/self in the face of postmodern cultural forces. Dream-Dust Parasites is dystopian literary-SF at its best: engaging, at times nightmarish, hard-hitting, visionary and ultimately liberating.
Author Comments Regarding the Work:In discussing his goals in writing Dream-Dust Parasites Hobson says, “Sam, the main character, represents a fairly typical middle class Australian male … I guess I wanted to shake him up a bit, to wake him (and Australia) up. In DDP I threw everything I could think of at this poor guy… I wanted to implicate him – in the direction of his country, in politics, in the crisis of the species, in life … I wanted him to finally feel something other than second hand emotions, blandness/deadness – you know the deadness that comes with successful enculturation. I wanted to make him confront his own shadow, the shadow, also, of his class, and his unacknowledged rage at having sold out to hyper-capitalism. But I also empathise greatly with Sam, so I wanted him to come out the other end as a better person … As the novel progressed I began to see what he (us?) was up against and I empathized with him more and more—I mean for many people these days it’s a daily struggle to keep things together – a toxic predatory society, after all, takes a terrible toll on one’s psychic and spiritual health.”
Publisher Comments: In Dream-Dust Parasites, Ian Hobson has written a fast-paced novel for the end-time of the species. His characters are cynical of utopian solutions and haunted, at every turn, by the vertigo that typifies post-millennium life. A must read for anyone struggling to make sense of the contemporary zeitgeist!
Author Bio:Ian Hobson (Irvine) is a novelist, poet and academic. Previous publications include a book of poetry, Facing the Demon of Noontide, and a non-fiction work on postmodern forms of alienation, entitled, The Angel of Luxury and Sadness. He has a PhD in Human Relations and is the former co-editor of the groundbreaking Australian literary ezine, The Animist. He resides in Bendigo Australia where he teaches in and coordinates the writing program at Bendigo Regional Institute of TAFE.
To Purchase: Worldwide RRP Price: US$16.95 + p&p Order from most major online bookstores: eg. Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com, buy.com, Booksamillion and TextbookX. North American bookstores can order via the Ingram (ipage) database, or directly from iUniverse, Inc. DDP is listed with Bowker’s Books in Print as well as with major international Speculative Fiction databases.
by Graham (Buzza) Borrell, writer and reviewer, December 10, 2003,
I really empathised with the main character of this book - Samuel Elmsmore. I found that I viewed my country's prevailing 'myths'- that we're the 'Lucky Country'and are 'MultiCultural, Egalitarian' - differently after reading this book. I was especially interested in the way everyday dilemmas are compromised by the way that we are encouraged to live within a globalised corporate view of our nation. This is sold to us with a thin veneer of Australiana. Scratching the veneer - as this book does - leaves a permanent mark on the reader's psyche. A disturbing but ultimately liberating book!
Also recommended: George, Orwell's 1984; Aldoux Huxley, Brave New World; Franz Kafka, The Castle; Doris Lessing, Memoirs of a Survivor; William Burroughs, The Naked Lunch and Cities of the Red-Night; Thomas Pynchon, Mason and Dixon.
Our Globalised Hearts
DREAM-DUST PARASITES by Ian Hobson
Is there such a thing as a balanced vision of dystopia? Or are big political ideas necessarily partisan? If you object to fiction that shows its polemical bones, Ian Hobson’s ‘Dream-Dust Parasites’ will probably jar. Yet despite this novel’s potentially cumbersome ambitions - to define the sickness of our age! - the narrative has an internal logic and sincerity that is compelling.
Hobson invites us to take an Orwellian leap into the near future to a Melbourne that has become a precinct of hell in which hypercapitalism is triumphant, and self-hate institutionalised. The stated year of 2011 is perhaps too soon for many of the nightmarish developments to be plausible, but the Neo-Conservative spirit is familiar. Rich and poor live in segregated enmity. The primary role of the state, apart from facilitating the goals of big business, is surveillance and policing. A subsidiary arm of government doles out ‘psycho-stabilisers’ from ubiquitous Chemi-Net dispensers; while Socio-Net and Psyche-Net purport to soothe troubled minds. And there are plenty of troubled minds.
The elite, who bear a strong resemblance to contemporary middle class Australians, are obsessed with money, personal status and the threat of crime - and all the better consumers for their insecurity. An emblematic manifestation of this is the advent of genetically modified plants that heighten the property-paranoia of home-owners by warning of intruders. At the same time, in less regulated sections of the city, homeless people brawl for Chemi-Net access, sleep on the privatised pavements and are castigated for their sins by roving evangelists.
While this scenario might seem over the top, Hobson brings us there in stages along with his bewildered protagonist Sam Elmsmore, who first surfaces as a drug-induced amnesiac in a hostel for the mentally ill. The ambiguity of Sam’s situation is the engine of the novel. We learn that his memory has been inhibited as a part of his treatment, but what precisely is his illness? Through interviews with a flippant social-worker and various computer-generated carers he discovers that he has a history of mental instability; that he’s jobless after a violent incident at work, that he’s estranged from his wife and forbidden to approach his school-aged son. Some life! But if the suggestion that he’s been a domestic monster isn’t mortifying enough, it soon transpires that the Central Network Authority, a body that incorporates the Australian Federal Police, regards him as a person of interest in an investigation targeting his former therapist - and alleged terrorist - Dr Alan Sycora. Presumably to flush out Sam’s former associates, the CNA fits him with an electronic tracking device and lets him loose on a quest to recover his identity.
What lifts this book beyond other books of the political thriller genre is Hobson’s commitment to Sam’s interior landscape. Repeatedly we encounter a ghostly figure called Functional Sam, a slick adaptation to the prevailing order who despises Sam’s ineptitude. Related to the menace of Functional Sam is an initially baffling parallel narrative, a dream-journey that is situated somewhere in Sam’s past and has the didactic feel of a culture-myth. Fleeing a vengeful Owl-Woman, he seeks refuge in a forest where he couples with a mysterious woman (his yin essence?). While they sleep their souls are stolen away and subjected to some very creepy regenerative rituals. But alas, when it’s time for them to return to their sleeping bodies, the male body has been abducted by the entity we have come to know as Functional Sam. This revelation occurs two thirds into the book, so there’s a palpable aha! factor.
But if Sam Elmsmore is intriguing as a microcosm of an inwardly crippled society - a victim of a ‘metaphysical parasite’, as Dr Sycora theorises - the supporting cast are less rounded. The underground poets, musicians and activists that Sam meets are mostly exemplars of psyches infected in singular ways by the ‘Dream-Dust Parasites’. While it’s logical that such people will be incapable of deep human connection, there is little in their stylised exchanges with Sam to make us feel deeply for them, though his wife Celesa is pitiable in her efforts to lure him back to his role of wage-earning husband. An anarchist singer called Carlea exhilarates and terrifies him with her mechanised sex-play and confrontational politics but is incapable of empathy; and Annie, an activist in Dr Sycora’s democratic movement - and one of the ‘virus-free’ - is a world above him in competence. Then there’s the problem of Dr Sycora, whose overview of Sam’s predicament is presented as definitive. Being held in jail, Sycora is in no position to interact with Sam, and therefore appears as an impressive but disembodied intellect with just one real-time speaking part as an electronically simulated voice on a website.
Fortunately Sam is interesting and complex enough to carry the load; and if we as readers, like Sam himself, are denied satisfying relationships, we are nevertheless driven on by the fission of the big idea and the internal drama of Sam’s transformation. This is a thought-provoking book.
Author of FURIES
A novel published by Queensland University Press, Australia 2004]
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