Benjamin Walker is a dreamer, a very unique dreamer. For most people dreams are transient, occurring during sleep and rarely remembered after awakening. Ben Walker remembers his dreams in meticulous detail long after rising. He works part time tending bar but the majority of his income is from the Annapolis Foundation for Sleep Research. Several nights a week, he is wired to electrodes, becoming the prized subject of Dr. Stuart Wright’s research. Unfortunately, Dr. Wright is retiring so he refers Ben to Dr. Peter Wulfric who offers a lucrative position to Ben for doing virtually the same work. Ben agrees to work for Dr. Wulfric and his employer, Kalispell Industries in their lab in the Hamptons. Within a couple of weeks, he flies to Paris for the second phase of the experiment.
Up to this point, the plot’s pace is relatively laid back and the story progresses as an unremarkable narrative. This is deceiving, especially when Ben asks why he was chosen for the experiment. Dr. Wulfric’s answer is direct: “Because of your willingness, Ben.” This passes almost unnoticed but the statement is a major red flag that Ben misses. Ben is taken to the Louvre where he studies every minute detail of some old masters and allows himself to “dream” them later that night. The result is a perfect reproduction of the artwork by LUCY. After a time he begins to feel the side effects of the serum: headaches, an occasional migraine, lethargy. As the experiment, progresses he begins to hallucinate and his dreams depict a murder that took place at Drapery Falls, NY. Timothy Kalispell, owner of the institute underwriting the research, becomes alarmed at this development. A previous experiment had gone wrong with fatal results and the entire company is now in panic mode as they shut down the experiment. It is at this point that the plot accelerates and becomes more complex as Ben realizes that his life is in danger and he has to depend on his damaged mind to work out his escape. The climax in the last few pages reveals the hidden agenda of Kalispell Industries as well as the “hidden years” of Ben’s life.
THE EXPERIMENT OF DREAMS is an absorbing study of how our perception of reality and imagination interact in the subconscious mind. The characters are true to life and the neuroscience is cutting edge yet understandable.
Reviewed by Ed Bennett for IndieReader.