Aside from what I hope are the obvious political overtones, my story – “To Sleep, Perchance to Dream” – is a comic take on what’s become a very popular genre, the YA dystopian novel. My daughter (now on her way to becoming a high school biology teacher) introduced me to the world of The Hunger Games, and through other books and movies, I saw that this was a definite trend. She was in high school at the time, and I remember asking her if it wasn’t really a metaphor for how teenagers felt bossed around and put out by the adult world. She looked at me as if I had just noted that water is wet and said, “Of course.”
My twist is having the reader identify not with the teen rebels but with the dictator. So, I hope, the story works on several levels in both satirizing the genre and noting that readers may respond differently to a text than the author intended. It is intentionally cartoonish, not so much to mock the genre – I liked The Hunger Games and some of the other YA fiction I’ve shared with my daughter – but to make clear that the battle of good vs. evil in these books is rarely subtle.
As always, my goal is twofold: to get the laughs and to make the reader think. If my story gets you to do both, then I’ve done my job.
Veteran film critic Daniel M. Kimmel was the Boston correspondent for Variety and currently reviews for NorthShoreMovies.net and Space and Time magazine. He is the author of several books including Jar Jar Binks Must Die…and other observations about science fiction movies,a Hugo finalist for “best related work,” and two novels: Shh! It’s a Secret: a novel about aliens, Hollywood, and the Bartender’s Guide, shortlisted for the Compton Crook Award for best first novel, and Time on My Hands: My Misadventures in Time Travel. His short story appearances include After the Happily Ever After and On Fire (both from Transmundane Press), Alternate Truths, Science Fiction Stories for the Throne, and Beyond Steampunk, as well as the website HollywoodDementia.com. He is currently working on his own take on the Frankenstein story.
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Photo Credit (c) R. Kikuo Johnson in The New Yorker.