The Deep Sea Diver’s Syndrome
By Serge Brussolo (translated by Edward Gauvin)
Serge Brussolo is a prolific and popular French author of genre-stretching speculative fiction that until now has been unavailable in English translation. The Deep Sea Diver’s Syndrome fixes the translation problem, and with any luck more of Brussolo’s intriguing work will soon be on the way.
Our hero, David Sarella, is an artist of the future. What this means is that he has a psychic gift that allows him to descend into a somewhat stable subconscious dream world and bring back material artefacts sculpted from his spiritual-psychological essence: fleshy objets d’art or “oneiric ectoplasms” that have cornered the art market and consigned all those paintings and sculptures by Old Masters to the dustbin of history.
The problem is that “diving” can be addictive. David grows ever more attached to his imaginary world, which leads to conflicts and complications in his surface life. If you’ve seen the movie Inception you’ll have some idea of how it all works, but the presentation here is really so original, provocative, and beautiful, in a surreal way, that it results in one of the most fascinating allegories ever for the mystery of artistic creation.