Thursday, September 19, 2013

EM's Review/Interview of The Dream Metropolis by Miles Cressman

About the Book

The Dream Metropolis is a science fiction novel that posits the idea of dreams becoming reality, and reality fading away into obscurity. It explores the relationship people have between their real lives and the escape that only dreams can provide. 

The Dream Metropolis delves deep into the mechanics of dreaming, all inside of an abstract, ever-changing city of dreams. The people inside this artificial dream world see everything before them as real, even though they do not know that they are dreaming of each other, of other real people. 

They are part of a project that works to exploit their limitless, dreaming imagination in an attempt to separate the mind from the body forever, to create a real world inside of the mind. 

However, for a drug addict named Ash spending his last moments inside the Metropolis, dreaming forever doesn't sound so appealing.


“Ash fell down from a hazy, overcast sky and he coated the rooftops with a gray thickness; even as the sunlight filtered in it did little to warm the air, warm the people, bring the life back. He could smell fire, an intense fire that roasted and ached and called out to everything around it hoping for solace. He opened his eyes and for a second never thought he could feel alive again. The gunshot? Completely gone, only some residual scar still freshly fading. And even though the memories were hammer strikes upon the anvil, the pain of it all had begun to recede. Had he died? Was he in the afterlife? Nothing gave him an answer.

            He stood up to survey his surroundings. The building he was on top of was alone, surrounded on all sides by a thick forest. However, peering deep into their green veils he could see other buildings, like a city.”

About the Author

Miles Cressman was born in Arizona, but raised in Portland, Oregon, where he grew up enjoying complex fantasy and humanist satire such as Kurt Vonnegut. While attending the University of Oregon he started work on his first full-length novel, The Dream Metropolis, which would later go on to be part one of a four-part series entitled A Paean to Dreams, with its final, conclusive novel released in June of 2013. Miles graduated the University of Oregon with a Bachelor of Arts in English, and now works on novels in his spare time. He has been featured in the Eugene, Oregon based literary journal, The Watercourse Journal, and has a short story featured in Kindle All Stars: Resistance Front, which also features the talents of Bernard Schaffer and Harlan Ellison.

Twitter: @Azure_Horizon



I was privileged to be able to interview Miles Cressman, the author of Dream Metropolis. This is what he had to say. 

E.M.: What was your inspiration behind Dream Metropolis? 

Cressman: My main inspiration was a blend between the film Inception, my father's recent death, and The Void, an obscure Russian videogame that puts you in the role of a lost soul in limbo, searching for a way out of a nightmare whose only life force is color itself. I wanted to take elements of each, and combine them into the complicated fabric of dreams and their uniqueness for every individual who experiences them. At the same time, I wanted to create a dark tale where the dream becomes a reflection of the reality it seeks to usurp. To this end, I used a variety of characters all with different vices, sexualities, pasts, connections, religions, and perspectives to create a world of dynamic characters that reflect the shifting dream-verse they find themselves trapped inside.

E.M.: I'm sorry to hear about your father. I find writing many of my stories has helped me process events or grand questions in my life. I hope Dream Metropolis was cathartic for you.

From your description, I think you did exactly what you set out to do with DM. It definitely has a dream quality to it; a very surreal disconnected feeling. In this movies-and-tv-generation, where readers want immediate plot, immediate action, immediate pay off, and immediate connection to the characters. Do you think that this disconnect feel is going to hinder your readers from really getting behind your characters?  

Cressman: From feedback I've received from readers, I think it's actually created an investment in the characters. The series has multiple payoffs that don't occur until well towards the final book, but the personal narrative arcs that each character goes through mimic a lot of real-life struggles. I think the disconnection lends itself to the fact that all the books, with small exceptions like when characters reminisce about their pasts, all take place within dreams. In other words, I looked at it more as feeding the setting, which in turn is fleshed out, subconsciously, by the characters. What feels like a disconnect between the reader and the characters is intentional, until they too begin to see the truth behind the veil. As each book burrows deeper and deeper into the dreams, so too will readers who hopefully become further immersed in these other-worlds.

E.M.: I really like that idea, of connecting more with the characters as they connect with themselves. A truly original approach. I recently published a book under Visionary Fantasy. The way you describe the book feels familiar. Do you think DM falls under that category as well or do you see it as straight science fiction?

Cressman: I've been changing my approach to the novel (and series) as a genre work. It has elements of science fiction, noir, philosophy, psychology, and fantasy. Putting all these together, I actually see DM and the series in general as more speculative fiction.

E.M.: Well, that was a mouth full! I had to do a lot of explaining about what Visionary Fiction is because it's not your standard, Romance, Paranormal Romance, Fantasy, etc. Can you explain what speculative fiction is?

Cressman: Speculative fiction is basically taking science fiction/fantasy and expanding upon it into a modernist sense. It's fiction that isn't hamstrung by the conventions of either genre. Sometimes it's used as an umbrella term for fantasy/sci-fi/horror/dystopian fiction/post-apocalyptic fiction, but in my case I use it to explain that DM as well as the A Paean to Dreams series operate within the realm of multiple genres at once.

E.M.: Very cool. So this is your debut novel, right? When did you start writing? Was it always a passion of yours?

Cressman: The Dream Metropolis is my first novel, yes, of the four I've written. I started writing in 2008 or so, doing short stories for writing challenges. It was something that I didn't feel I had a passion for until I received a lot of positive feedback for my writing. I'd say that it's definitely the thing I'm most passionate about.

E.M.: Is writing already your career or do you envision it being your career?

Cressman: I work a day job in hospitality, but I am working towards making writing my career. It's a tough industry to get into, though, and self-publishing requires a lot of marketing effort. I'm getting there, though, and using every opportunity I can.

E.M.: No Kidding! I spend entirely too much of my time marketing. I know you'll make it work though. You're already ahead of the game with a series of books out. Hugh Howey, author of the Wool series, gives just that advice to indie authors. Write more books! So Hugh is my literary Yoda, do you have one?

Cressman: I do! I contributed a short story to the Kindle All Stars: Resistance Front anthology spearheaded by popular Kindle author Bernard Schaffer. He's who I look up to when it comes to marketing novels and writing in general. His novels are fantastic, and I definitely recommend them.

E.M.: So Bernard Shaffer is a favorite author, do you have a favorite band? (I know you have an answer to this. I've been following you on Twitter!)

Cressman: Right now, it would definitely be Janelle Monae and the Wondaland Arts Society. She's a multifaceted R&B singer with a fantastic voice, even better dance moves, and the ability to move between musical genres with ease. She defies every label put on her and releases fantastic music rooted in the past but remade for the present and future. Love her!

E.M.: Okay, favorite TV Show....Duck Dynasty, Jersey Shore, or Honey Boo Boo? 

Cressman: Is none of them an answer? I'll go with Mad Men. :)

E.M.: Of course it's an answer! But I think I just broke the rule, "There are no stupid questions".  So with that, I ask, is there anything else you want our readers to know about Dream Metropolis or the series? 

Cressman: I would like people to know that it's not a linear series. The plot skips around the timeline of the universe often, so don't be worried if things seem out of place or confusing. There are more than a few plot points that take the whole series to answer, with much of that being contained in the third and fourth books. It's also a very personal series, and a few characters and events are a fantastical rendition of things that have happened in my own life, most obviously in the final novel.

E.M.: Thanks Miles for taking the time to do this interview. I really enjoyed Dream Metropolis, and I wish you the best of luck with it and A Paean to Dreams.


If "What Dreams May Come" and "Inception" had a baby, and Andy Warhol and Minecraft had a baby, and those two babies grew up, got married and had a baby, then THAT baby grew up and moved to Colorado to live with Mary Jane; their life is what The Dream Metropolis is like.

Mr. Cressman weaves an intriguing tale with a great command of the English language. This is a beautifully written, highly descriptive novel that will immerse you into the dream world. 

It is unlike any story I've ever read. This is both positive and negative. While the intrigue of something new and unpredictable lures the reader in, it's also missing some main ingredients that make the book fulfilling. The ending in particular left me frustrated. Mr. Cressman did tell me that might be an issue at the onset. Dream Metropolis is the first in a series of works that revolve around this dream construct, and there may not be closure until the last book (all  are available on Amazon!). 

Still, I enjoyed the world and the characters. He makes them very human, very real. I think the skill with which he constructs his characters actually lends to the disappointed feeling at the end. You really care about where they went!

There are also some punctuation mistakes and typos. If you are one to be overly dramatic about such things, I would suggest you take a deep breath and jump into Dream Metropolis anyway. You'll be missing out on one of the most original and poetically written works I've read in a while.

Overall, a thought provoking tale for adults only. There is some moderate language, and while there are some "love" scenes, they are tastefully and beautifully written. 

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