Tag Archives: NovaDreamer

Analog Science Fiction Tale by Bill Johnson About Time Travelers to Ancient Ski Lodge Will Challenge Readers, But Entertain Those Who Can Bring Something To The Table


Review by: KEN KORCZAK

Just a few paragraphs into the lead-off science fiction story in the Nov-Dec 2017 issue of ANALOG, I began to feel a strange swoon – it was borne of a certain brand of déjà vu that I’ll call … um? … synchronistic familiarity?

Let me explain:

The story is titled HYBRID, BLUE, BY FIRELIGHT. The setting is a ski-lodge sort of facility with a fine restaurant, rooms and other creature comforts for travelers – except this place is positioned in the year 42,967 BCE in a remote Arctic-like region — and the “guests” are time travelers from a variety of future timelines.

As it happens, I have been to this place many times. For real.

I call it The Restaurant on the Edge of Time (The RET for short) – and the way I get there is through the practice of lucid dreaming.

Years ago (somewhere in the 1990s) I perfected the practice of lucid dreaming after reading Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming written by Stanford University psychophysiologist STEPHEN LABERGE – even though I was a spontaneous lucid dreamer years before confronting LaBerge’s ground-breaking work.

Rather than retell everything here, I will now refer you to the first article I published on my visit to The RET – the earliest publication of this story (that I can find) appeared on one of my blogs in 2006 – but for right now I suggest you pause before you read the rest of my review of Bill Johnson’s science fiction story, read about my dream adventure at The RET which I have re-posted here:

THE RESTAURANT ON THE EDGE OF TIME

Okay! Welcome back! I hope you enjoyed the trip to The RET!

So now let’s talk about this novella, Hybrid, Blue, by Firelight. It’s a challenging piece of fiction, to be sure, which is often the case with hard science fiction crafted in the best tradition of the genre. The author is BILL JOHNSON. He won science fiction’s top honor, the HUGO AWARD, in 1998.

I like science fiction that make you think – even sweat a few bullets out of your forehead – if you are going to understand what is happening in the story. Grapple you must with solid, meaty scientific theory based on … you know … real science. ‘Hybrid’ is that kind of story.

A short synopsis: This tale involves two brokers of genetic goods – one is a man (a homo sapiens sapiens) by the name of Martin. His partner is a kind of omnipresent  AI figure, appropriately named “Artie.”

An artists conception of a Red Deer Cave individual.

Martin and Artie ply their trade at the Stone Eagle, a luxury ski-lodge hotel positioned some 40 thousand years in the past. Time travelers of multiple species of man – NEANDERTHALS, DENISOVANS, RED DEER CAVERS and others – all meet at this exotic nexus to wheel and deal on what they need to manage the future timelines of their races.

Accouterments of trade include things like human female ova, resistance to diseases, whole intact species of animal, such as dogs, and so forth.

But the set-up is unstable, in that, maintaining the Stone Eagle is subject to problems, such as time quakes and wobbly reality shifts that quaver amid an array of future timelines … this precarious footing adds tension and sense of urgency to the narrative.

It’s an ambitious premise and difficult to pull off.

Author Bill Johnson is counting on his readers to be intelligent and informed about the latest theories concerning the origin of the human species – but I also believe Johnson expects his reader to contribute mightily in another way toward making the story a coherent whole.

Alexei Panshin

I could be wrong, but I believe the writing technique Johnson is using is what science fiction literary critic ALEXEI PANSHIN described as: “… a provocative vagueness deliberately introduced in order to prevent … readers from understanding too clearly and exactly what was happening and thereby losing their sense of mystery.”

Panshin ascribes the genesis of this writing technique to the legendary science fiction master A. E. VAN VOGT. The great man himself confirmed Panshin’s theory, saying:

A.E. van Vogt, Golden Age science fiction author who left subliminal gaps in his prose which he expected his readers t fill in.

“Each paragraph – sometimes each sentence – of my brand of science fiction has a gap in it, an unreality condition. In order to make it real, he reader must add the missing parts. He cannot do this out of his past associations. There are no past associations. So he must fill in the gap from the creative parts of his brain.”

When this technique works, it can create fiction that is rich, compelling and delicious beyond belief. Unfortunately, leaving subliminal gaps within a narrative tends to leave many readers baffled – such is the nature of their personal thought processes that subliminal promptings invoke no response for them – and the effect is only confusion. Some readers can “auto-fill,” some can’t.

On the other hand, there are some aspects of Hybrid, Blue, by Firelight that are problematic for less exotic reasons. For example, there is a scene where the characters come upon some dead bodies, and these are covered in buzzing flies – and yet, they are in a cold climate. Our characters are wearing animal skins and fur, there is snow on the ground, they’re traveling by dog sled – so how can there be carrion-eating flies under these frigid conditions?


There can’t be flies, and so this makes no sense. It’s a small detail, but jarring enough to sew uncomfortable confusion in the mind of the reader, who then begins to question the fundamental integrity of the overall scenario.

As for me, though, I enjoyed the story. My subconscious mind was auto-filling like mad. I felt I was treated to a vivid, sensual and luxurious science fiction feast. Also, I was delighted to confront an intelligent fictional scenario that so closely matched a beloved location so near and dear to my own dreams — literally.



Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS

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The Restaurant On The Edge of Time: My Use of Lucid Dreams To Time Travel and Experience Wondrous Adevntures


by: KEN KORCZAK

NOTE: This article appeared originally on my “old blog” in April of 2006 HERE. I re-post here with some slight editing to fix typos and sundry minor changes).

Many of us have a favorite restaurant where we love the food, the atmosphere, and the special feeling it gives us.

Today I bring you a story of one of my favorite restaurants — but I can only get to it through the process of lucid dreaming. A lucid dream is a dream in which you know you are dreaming. For several years, I experimented with advanced lucid dream inducement techniques, including using the NovaDreamer developed by THE LUCIDITY INSTITUTE founded by Stanford University psychologist STEPHEN LABERGE.

The NOVA Dreamer — A mask that can facilitate the lucid dreaming state sold by the Lucidity Institute.

The NOVADREAMER is a kind of “dream mask” which you wear over your eyes at as you asleep at night. It uses motion detectors to discern when you have entered the REM state — Rapid Eye Movement — which is an indication that you are dreaming.

Once REM is detected, the NovaDreamer signals you to “come awake” within your dream. The following story tells of a fantastic restaurant I discovered in the “dream world.” I call it: The Restaurant on the Edge of Time.”

One night as I was going to sleep I was very hungry, but I was too tired to get up for a snack.

After a few minutes — and after using my favorite lucid dream inducement technique – I found myself in an exhilarating dream in which I was flying through a high, craggy mountain pass. I instantly realized I was dreaming, and tried not to get too excited. I didn’t want to collapse the dream and wake up.


After a time of thrilling soaring through the mountains, there was a sudden “whump”! I found myself looking down at a vivid red carpet. Lifting my head, I found that I was in a bright room. I recognized it as some kind of large restaurant, furnished with heavy tables and chairs fashioned from oak timber, blackened with age. One entire side of the place, an entire wall, was a gigantic window — it was about 25 feet high. The room was like a big solarium.

Outside the window was a vast, snow-covered vista. Huge black-gray mountains with jagged, toothy peaks loomed in the mid-distance. In front of the mountains was a frozen glacial landscape, broken only here and there by a few gray rocky outcroppings. The sky was vibrant cerulean blue and blazing with cold sun.

It was a breath-taking sight. I stood where I had landed, gaping out the big window.

The “Goddess Waitress” — fan art graciously submitted by New Zealand artist Sanjana Baijnath http://www.sanjanasart.com/

Suddenly, I felt somebody touch my elbow. Startled, I whirled and saw a petite woman, about five feet tall, and of astounding beauty. She had luxurious chocolate-brown hair tumbling to her shoulders. Her skin was pale ivory, and she had stunning green eyes. Her lips were like red pillow cushions. She was the most profoundly lovely woman I had ever seen! Her radiant smile was competition for the luminous sunshine streaming through the giant window. She was achingly lovely!

I quickly became apparent this stunning person was a waitress. She said to me: “Do you want a table?” I stammered and said: “I guess so, but where am I?”

As I asked this question, the place began to shift and waver. I was starting to wake up — something I did not want to do yet! I wanted to experience this world!

But the woman helped me. She said: “Look down at the carpet and focus all your attention on it until things solidify for you.”

I obeyed, and looked down at the carpet. As I did so, I began to regain control of the dream. The carpet became solid; I could soon see every fiber in it. (I later learned this was the purpose of the carpet — it’s a special color designed to help people stay solid in the dream state)!

Anyway, once I was back in control, the beautiful waitress asked me how I got here. I said: “I think I’m dreaming, but I’m not sure. My physical body is on Earth, in a place called Minnesota. Do you know where that is?”

She laughed and said: “Yes, you are still on Earth, but you are probably in a different time period, and there is no Minnesota now.” And then she added: “But congratulations on making it here!

Then she led me to a table and asked me if I wanted something to eat. I said yes, but that I didn’t have any money. She burst out laughing. “You don’t need any money here! Feeding you will be an honor — you’ve earned it!”

I asked, “Why?”

She answered, “Because you’re here!”

I said: “Thank you. But I’m not sure if I can eat, or what I want.”

She winked at me, and said: “Don’t worry, I’ll bring you something you’re going to love.”

As she turned to go back toward the kitchen, I looked at her more. She was wearing a prim, earthy green knee-length frock. Her legs were smooth and muscular. Her feet were adorned with soft black ankle boots. She also evinced sweet scent, very subtle, like melted white sugar, or perhaps mild vanilla. Whew! She was so attractive it made me dizzy!

But I forced my mind off Eros. I looked around the restaurant a bit more. Perhaps six to eight other diners were present, speaking in low voices, minding their own business. Were they dreaming, too? They sipped drinks from crystal goblets, and ate from dark wooden bowls and wooden plates.

I was seated at a large oak table right next to the big windows. I looked out into the landscape and was surprised to see a human-like figure walking out on the glacial ice-pack. It was coming toward the restaurant, and as it got closer, I was flabbergasted by what I saw!

I realized that I was looking at not a human, but a proto-human! This “person” was some kind of Cro-Magnon man, or something. It stood tall and erect, but had a heavy, ape-like brow and face. It had thick, tangled black hair and beard. It was wearing animal furs, and high animal-fur boots or leggings. Strangely, it must have been 6’-8” or 6’-10” tall.


The proto-man was skinny, but tough-looking and sinewy with muscle. He was also carrying a variety of animal skin pouches. I had the impression that he might have been a shaman on a vision quest. In the dream state, thoughts like that just come to you; it’s kind of like ESP.

As the proto-man man came closer, I realized he could not see me through the window, or even see the restaurant. He stood there for a while, just kind of smelling the air. He seemed to sense that this was a magical place.

It began to dawn to me that this restaurant was probably designed to be a kind of viewing area, set up in the distant past, where “mind traveling” beings from the future could come to witness the ancient landscape while relaxing over a fine meal.

What a concept for a restaurant!

A was stunned and fascinated. I could not take my eyes off the proto-man. It was an eerie feeling to see a being that was perhaps only “somewhat” human.” He had the unmistakable mannerisms of a human, yet he was alien somehow — truly another species. I felt I could sense high intelligence in his face, a certain light in its eyes — as if he too was transcending to a higher level of understanding, just as those of us at the restaurant might be doing.

I made a mental connection.

Here I was at this restaurant, honing my own abilities to live and experience consciousness beyond my ordinary experience — striving to transcend my present level of existence — just as this proto-human was embarked upon a vision quest, striving to transcend his own level of development.

He eventually began to walk on, and slowly disappeared into the distance.

Presently, the lovely waitress returned with my food. She set down a wooden bowl filled with what looked like a delicious beef stew. It had small whole onions and tubers in it, and some other vegetables. She also set down a bowl of leafy salad, looking similar to spinach leaves. Finally, she presented a large, crystal glass containing a green drink of some kind, with ice in it.

She said: “You’re gonna love this. What you might want to try is spearing a chunk of meat, wrap it in one of these valor leaves and pop the whole thing into your mouth. The stew is quite spicy and the cool taste of the leaves balance the flavor.”

I said, “Okay,” and then, “I’ve never heard of ‘valor’ leaves. What are they?”

She said, “Just a kind of delicious plant we grow here.”

She left. I began to eat. I took her advice about wrapping a chunk of meat in the valor leaves. I popped a wrapped bit into my mouth — and the flavor exploded within! The meat had a pungent, hot-n-spicy tang — it was 100 percent succulent! — and the minty flavor of the valor leaves balanced it perfectly. It tasted so good I almost went into a trance!

I dug into the rest of the bowl and began to eat like a starved animal. It was so delicious I couldn’t shovel it all into my mouth fast enough! The whole onions were cooked to a perfect degree — just slightly crispy and full of flavor. The “mystery tubers” were sweet and savory.

As I was eating, I hardly noticed that the waitress had brought me a large husk of freshly baked bread, golden brown crust and fluffy white on the inside. I grabbed the bread and used it to sop up the gravy.

After I finished the bowl of stew, I reached for the glass of green liquid and took a tentative sip. It was a magnificent wine! It was like kiwi-fruit wine, except the sweetness was more perfect, the flavor more exotic. It gave my tongue just the right feeling. After a couple of sips, I poured the entire contents down my throat.

When the waitress came back and asked me how I liked it, I made a fool of myself, babbling about how superb everything was. I asked her what the stew was made of, and get ready for this — she said it was made from mammoth meat!

I had just eaten mammoth stew, and it was the best meal of my life!

She asked me if I wanted some desert. Of course, I said yes! A minute later she was back with what looked like a dry, crispy piece of toast, or a kind of large, squared cookie. It was waffle-yellow with bits of red in it. I took a bite — again my mouth erupted with delightful flavor! It had a sweet, banana-strawberry taste. Although it looked dry, it had the moist consistency of a strudel, or a fresh scone.

As I was eating this, I began to feel the solidity of the restaurant shimmer and waver. I tried looking at the red carpet again, but it wasn’t working. Darn! It was time to go, time to wake up.

As I faded, I saw the waitress-goddess smiling at me with a look of pure love — she seemed to be saying good-bye, and telling me to come again. I suddenly felt awful I had no way to leave her a generous tip!

I awoke. I got up out of bed and started whooping and hollering! I could not believe the marvelous journey I had just been on! My mind was wonder-swirling the rest of the night!

NOTE: I describe many more visits to The RET here in my blog in which I tell of my contacts with “Dr. 58” THE STRANGE UNIVERSE OF DR. 58