A widowed skater. A shill.
A tree who loves Shakespeare. A freight train.
Snow falling on unblinking eyes.
Tumbleweed. Tachyons. Kites. A stranger who isn’t.
A retired skater is driven by guilt over her husband’s death to return to the village where she was raised, lacking any longer the will to live. But oblivion will not take her; she begins hearing stories whispered to her from walls and floors – funguswood boards taken from a species of trees long since rendered extinct by humanity.
A shill on death row somehow escapes prison by way of an old Leadbelly song; or perhaps it is a drug-induced madness. He comes to the same village and spies on the skater, out on the Suicide Flats nearby, talking for hours with something that looks like tumbleweed.
A tree, either the last or the first of its species, who is curiously familiar with Shakespeare, Blake, and Milton, and who bears humanity no ill will, is looking for a savior.
And a stranger, who is someone once known and loved, must overcome his anger and doubt to bring these three and their stories together, changing the past in order to preserve the future.
Having seen a vision of John Lennon on a flaming pie, a young monk in the Beatles religion must travel to London to win back the original sacred music of the Fab Four.
But to go near London, deep in the territory of the enemy Rolling Stones people, is virtual suicide.
And the songs, it becomes increasingly evident, are not sacred at all, and the faith he grew up with it would seem must therefore be a sham – except how then shall he account for these unexpected encounters with the spirits of John Lennon and George Harrison?
If he survives the frightening foray to London, will he survive a return to a monastery in an angry uproar over his iconoclastic claims of revelation?
He is a runaway Dreamer, but he must stay awake — or else the universe will be invaded by the Unreals.
From his dreams the most popular virtual realities are constructed – but he has disappeared into the underworld.
And Alina Nemitz, a top executive of the Nets, will be thrown from her good life in the beautiful city unless she finds him. But that means returning to her shadowy past to find him.
The only one who can help her is her ex-lover, Barkas Todd, whom she has ordered executed.
And only Mikel Smith, a test-tube spy with no imagination, knows where the Dreamer is – if he doesn’t fall victim to the Lady of the Awakening, leader of the Unreals.
Meanwhile, Symington, a bizarre recluse in the war-slagged regions Outside, is preparing an invasion of the city.
Thus the Dreamer is scared. If he falls asleep, the Unreals – everything that has never existed and cannot even be imagined – will come crashing through his dreams and destroy reality.
The passengers riding the train remember nothing of their lives from before they were put aboard. They have no idea where the train is going. In fact, they argue whether the landscape they see through the windows is real or just their imagination. They discuss the nature of the Engineer who drives this train, believing him omniscient and almighty. And they wonder what will happen to them when some day, unexpectedly, a Conductor tells them, “Your ticket has expired,” and throws them off the train, out into whatever exists outside, or perhaps into nonexistence.
And then one day a woman is put on board who, by some mistake, remembers fragments of her life from before. In shock and horror, the passengers brand her as a heretic, someone who must at all costs be stopped. Later, a dangerous expedition begins, avoiding the everpresent Conductors, and hoping to reach the head of the train and find out from the all-powerful Engineer where they are going and what is going to happen to them when they are forced off the train – and what they can do to change the inevitable.
COMING SOON! House of Cards
He manages to follow them into a place that is nowhere and everywhere, where something called the Gathering is going on. Four extended families, whose members represent the cards in a deck of Tarot, are meeting.
Given their parapsychological (or perhaps supernatural) skills, Dougal Baston is at considerable risk of being discovered as an interloper, and losing every vestige of his existence.
Meanwhile, he is being followed by a gang of telekinetic motorcyclists, and blamed for the theft of certain talismans essential to the great rite that will be the culmination of the Gathering.