In Between Dreams
by Christopher Barzak
If there’s a story within The Solaris Book of New Fantasy that I enjoy more than Christopher Barzak’s In Between Dreams I’ll be mighty surprised (and mighty pleased, for that matter). Like the words and actions of many of its characters, In Between Dreams is a surreal, mysterious but ultimately powerful and rewarding riddle.
Barzak gives the reader credit and doesn’t hand anything to them on a silver platter. Instead we get to follow the progtagonist, Ai, on a journey of self discover through two interweaving (but very related) plots. Ai herself is a well drawn, interesting young woman, and her internal struggles are sure to feel familiar to any reader.
One major draw for me was the Japanese setting. I’ve always been fascinated by the Japanese culture and mythology and it was nice to see Barzak tackling it with a steady hand. It isn’t easy to present a foreign character in such an easy to understand manner. Ai, and the heartbreaking story she tells, is sure to make any reader stop and take the time to consider their own life. And if that isn’t a sign of terrific fiction, I don’t know what is.
In Between Dreams is the tremble of a lip just before a floodgate of tears. It is the tender caress of a lover in the night. It is the confident stride of a professional athlete at the top of their game.
Most importantly, though, it is a story that will touch your heart.