About: Sleepless

I’m not sure how to categorize this post. It’s not fiction itself, but it is about my fiction. I’ve been posting a short story called Sleepless right here on my blog (that link takes you to single page version). In this post, I’d like to talk about where the idea came from, and how it came to be.

The first version of the story came to mind early in the morning on Dec. 18, 2004. In a notes file, I wrote:

A group of people have brains that work slightly different than ours. I got the idea from a quote by John Nash. When asked if he hears voices he said “I was a long way into mental illness before I heard any voices. Ultimately I realized I am generating these voices in my own mind: this is dreaming, this is not communication. This is coming from an internal source, not from the cosmos…” (source). That got me thinking about schizophrenia, and why humans are susceptible to it. Is there some evolutionary advantage to at least some of the symptoms? What about dreams? Why do we dream at all? Why don’t we dream while we’re awake? Could their be an advantage to dreaming while you’re awake?

As you can see, I wanted to write it about a group of people. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to do that. Later I realized that I could write it from the first person and post it as a series of blog entries.

Mixing reality and fiction in my blog was a lot of fun for me, but I’m not so sure that my readers enjoyed it. I got one email from someone who wanted to know more about my experiments, apparently he didn’t noticed that it was fiction. I also had a couple of comments stating the obvious, that the post was fiction. It’s a little like an audience member standing up in the middle of a play and saying “Don’t worry everybody. This is all fake. Romero didn’t actually die.” I guess not everyone knows to not open the curtain.

Now for the science in the science fiction: I actually did a little research on sleep before writing anything. I think that as far as the technology goes, we really are likely to have drugs that keep you from sleeping in the near future. Not only is there a huge financial incentive to do it, it’s something that the government has been working on for soldiers in the field. I’ve also discovered that it’s something that comes naturally to one man. Caffeine really does counteract the effects of sleep deprivation. For those interested, you can learn even more here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. You’ll notice that some of those links go to pages that were created after I started my story. I get the feeling that sleep control is going to become a very active area of study.

As always, I’m interested in feedback. Either offline, in comments, or in email.