Review: Life After Sleep by Mark R. Brand

Title: Life After Sleep
Author: Mark R. Brand
Publisher: CCLaP Publishing
Released: March 2011
Source: CCLaP website

Synopsis (from CCLaP):

It is the day after tomorrow, and a device has been invented that immediately induces REM sleep, otherwise known as “Sleep” with a capital S. Society has been transformed. The average person now only needs two hours of rest a night. The work day is officially sixteen hours long. Americans party at clubs until daybreak, then log into virtual worlds and party in a reunified Korea all morning too. And within this busier, noisier, more global society, we watch the intertwining fates of four people as they struggle with issues regarding Sleep: new parents who for postnatal reasons aren’t allowed to use their special Beds; an Iraq vet and PTSD victim who is haunted by the non-ending nightmares that Sleep produces; a harried, arrogant doctor whose Bed has stopped working, driving him to the brink of madness; and a band promoter with an illegal Bed that lets her Sleep for hours on end, then stay up for four straight days and nights.

Chicago science-fiction veteran and former medical assistant Mark R. Brand presents here a stunning and nuanced look at the world that might just await us around the corner — a place where GPS, Facebook and cellphones mesh perfectly to tell us where even in a nightclub to stand, yet traditional enough for couples to still have fights over groceries, and for office politics to still have enormous repercussions; and since it’s being released by the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography, it means you pay only what you want for an electronic copy, even if you want to pay nothing, making this mini-novel (available in EPUB, PDF and MOBI/Kindle editions) easily worth taking a chance on. Rich in its prose and deep in its metaphor, you do not have to be a fan of sci-fi, Michael Crichton or Malcolm Gladwell to love “Life After Sleep”…although it certainly wouldn’t hurt either.

Whoa, what a world Brand has created in Life After Sleep! In many ways, its society is similar to ours, but working long hours, being busy, and socializing via technology has gone to extremes. Glimpses into our own culture’s habits and behaviors are stark, moving, and sometimes distressing.

How Sleep and the Beds work are slowly revealed over the course of the novella. This left me content with the science, without ever feeling bogged down by technical minutia.

Of all the characters, I found new parents Max and Jess most compelling. Parents of babies and toddlers can’t use the Beds. They have to rely on traditional sleep, yet are expected to continue to function in a day-to-day life that is too long and extended. When I started to realize how impossible this was going to be without Sleep (can you imagine the sleep deprivation new parents face lasting years?!) it was overwhelming. All of the normal, typical feelings and stresses of new parenthood are magnified, all because they now have to sleep (lowercase “s”) instead of Sleep.

For most of the book, the four vignettes almost felt like separate short stories with an unusually strong unifying theme. Toward the end, however, all threads came together, giving this novella the satisfaction and feel of a full-length novel.

I downloaded a copy of this book from the CCLaP website. A review was not requested or expected; I did not receive compensation for this honest review.