Eastgate Systems

A dream with demons is a double work: a linear novel and a hypertext. Both parts are related but separated, and the reader can go through the linear text and then explore the hypertext, or, as Edward Falco recommends, access the hypertext at the end of each linear chapter and wander through it till she is ready to return to the traditional novel. The hypertext "may be conveniently thought as existing in many layers, or vertical stacks of pages, underneath the novel".

But just pushing the arrow that always takes the reader a text space below is not enough, because this way we don´t get to all the text spaces. Every sentence in a text space has a link to a related one and Falco wants the reader to take chances, to follow her associations freely and explore the hypertext interactively. Although the hypertext is prose, the sentences are organized in uneven columns as if it were poetry. And it certainly has a poetical quality, because the words are contained and essential, suggesting more than saying.

The linear novel and the hypertext both have the same fictional author: Preston Morris. The novel is a story that he´s made up, and in the hypertext he writes about his own life and explains why he´s written the novel. The novel has three main characters: Elaine (the mother), Val (the lover) and Missy (the daughter). They love and hurt each other leading lives that are full of fear and loss, letting the demons from their terrible pasts out too often, only to experiment that pain always repeats itself. These demons are usually under control, but when they come out, anybody is capable of anything:

"She tried not to move, knowing that the man under the man was capable of anything. The man under the man who was her father once crushed her cat's skull against the wall while she watched. She said, "Daddy, please don't hurt Atom." But the man who might have listened wasn't there. The troll up from under the bridge came out when her father drank." (Elaine)

Every character has an own expressive style but the language is always full of emotion, almost brutal in the way these characters strip their souls.

"This is the woman I love. I don´t love her, I only need her because I´m getting old and there´s something she fulfills, some need or desire. Maybe the desire to hurt. I need to hurt someone and she needs to be hurt by someone. I´m angry at her because we´re stuck here." (Val)

"Why do I write such ugliness?", Preston asks himself in the hypertext. The novel is his way of exorcizing sad memories and a haunted present. The three characters are his own life, and, like them, he is perfectly conscious of what happened in the past that makes him unhappy now, but he just can´t change anything. Writing is the way of organizing our lives, he wants to get deeper and deeper into the world.

"I was and am interested in different things: The world beneath the surface of our daily world. What´s under the illusion of order. Language in disorder can open doors. There are events that disturb illusions. That´s what and how I write."

A dream with demons is not only about personal pain, but it is also concerned with ecological disaster, social disintegration, sexuality, identity and other crucial themes for the end of the century. Falco raises these questions pessimistically but honestly, hoping that the reader will be willing to go beyond the surface as well, identifying and isolating her own demons, because, as Elaine puts it: "Who´s not haunted?" Through Preston Morris mediation, Edward Falco looks the reader directly into the eyes:

"In the end, who´s left then? Only you. You in your own space. With these words before you."

Susana Pajares Toska
July 1998