I Wake from a Dream of a Drowned Star City is a short story (novella? Fragment?) by S.P. Somtow, which is a pseudonym for the magnificent Somtow Sucharitkul; award-winning Author, Musician, and famous Conductor/Composer. This is a book published by Axolotl Press (their 24th publication out of 26 overall…), it came as 75 bound in leather, 300 Hardbacks, and 525 Trade Paperbacks; all of which signed by the author. A bit of a rarity, really, although it’s definitely findable (and obtainable) on the internet, if not terribly well known.
Dreambreak. The easternmost point of the world. Just shy of the drowned star city. Where the human dream is shattered. Dreambreak.
The story follows a short span, less than 48 hours, in the life of prince Morry Draus, of the House of Draus. Morry lives alone with his next-up brother on one of the upper floors of the Kingdom of Dreambreak, looking out over the sea when the Star City, where the star ships were build and left from, emerges at low tide; and sneaking downstairs to play with the fish children, who gather the fish from the nets strung across the windows of the lower floors. No one except his tutor (an alien in a bottle), the fish children, and his brother Skart even talk to him. But all of this is about to change, as Morry is coming of age; as Jonellys, the fisher girl who dared to awaken him sexually is caught by the Pickle Master who lives in the dungeons of Dreambreak; and as his brother is condemned to death for not being genetically pure.
You see, the House of Draus stems from ‘pure’, cloned ancestors (john and jane Draus), but, cloning being one of the many many things humanity has lost since the departure of the ships when ‘everybody went to the Morning Star’, the only way to maintain this ‘purity’ is to keep sexual contact within the family. So yes, the story contains underage sex (underage from our perspective, obviously), inter-filial rape, and ritual incest. Handled just fine, I hasten to add. What I found much more disturbing was the cruelty of the Picklemaster, and their/his way of embalming members of the ‘ruling’ family who are genetically not up to spec in flasks, slowly, with the fluid dripping in, whilst still alive…
This is an infuriating book, but not for the usual reason books sometimes are. It’s a fragment, dealing with ‘the day when everything changed’ for Morry plus a little pre and post that day – it is reminiscent of one of those Japanese ‘slice of life’ shorts, which also start without telling you much (all we know and learn we see through Morry’s eyes and ears. And other body parts, of course…) of where we are, and simply leave off when the incident to be told is finished. It plays in a fascinating, post-high-civilizational world with different Kingdoms, loads of history, aliens, ancient humans in suspended animation (Eternal Cruise), etc which cries out for more stories, more details, more characters. It has characters full of promise for the future, for their development, for the progression of the story. I want more, ok?
So, an excellent slice of life, playing in a wreck, an empty shell of a world, literally the memory of a decayed dream. No idea why he didn’t go anywhere with the story or the world it is set in (some parts remind me of some of the characters and settings in the Riverrun trilogy). Still, recommended reading, for what there is.
More S.P. Somtow
More Somtow Sucharitkul
Title: I Wake from a Dream of a Drowned Star City
Author: S.P. Somtow
Author: aka Somtow Sucharitkul
Reviewer URL: http://skating.thierstein.net
Publisher: Axolotl Press
Publication Date: 1992
Review Date: 101125