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The Deep Sea Diver's Syndrome

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  276 ratings  ·  44 reviews
An undisputed French master of the fantastic—as prolific as Stephen King; as original as Philip K. Dick—now in English for the first time

In The Deep Sea Diver’s Syndrome, lucid dreamers called mediums dive into their dreams to retrieve ectoplasms—sticky blobs with curiously soothing properties that are the only form of art in the world. The more elaborate the dream, the be
Hardcover, 220 pages
Published January 19th 2016 by Melville House (first published 1992)
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Average rating 3.50  · 
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Richard Derus
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindled-no-lend
Real Rating: 4.25* of five

#ReadingIsResistance to the dominance of timid, pale storytelling in urban fantasy! At my blog, I review this French urban fantasy, Melville House's latest gift to US English-language readers. It's the first time Serge Brussolo has appeared in English, but let's make sure it's not the last. Use #SciFiFri discover how deep a man's love can go. (Bonus points if you can name the 1970s group that sang that song.)
Book Riot Community
Like weird books? STEP RIGHT UP. This is about a lucid dreamer who is a professional jewel thief in his dreams. David is a skilled diver. When he "dives" into his dreams, he brings back treasures that turn into ectoplasm when he wakes. (Yes, that stuff from Ghostbusters.) Ectoplasm is a high form of art in David's world. But on David's last dive, the ectoplasm starts fighting back, and he must figure out how to protect himself and safely wake. See? I told you - weird. Awesome weird.

Tune in to ou
Oct 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
while featuring the inventiveness, darkness, no get out jail card that made the author such a favorite, i am not sure why this (originally published in 1992) novel was chosen for his English language debut as out of 100+ works there are so many better in all his genres (whether pure sf, sf with horror or historical or fantasy or thriller elements, pure thrillers, historical fiction, pure horror etc) and I can think of 20+ I read I would highly recommend and would have chosen instead of this fair ...more
aPriL does feral sometimes

I am in a complete state of amazed joy at this surprising little book. I read it cold, and I suggest you, gentle reader, do so as well. It is great fun, wise, sad, and satirically spot on in regards to the double-edged pleasures of an imaginary life through exposure to creative literary artists.

Gentle reader, have you ever had a weekend entirely to yourself with no obligations, so maybe after breakfast you settled down on the couch with a new book? Then, when next you lifted your eyes because of
Jan 20, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This is a hard book to review. Conceptually, it's super cool, albeit very strange. Like strange, strange. In execution, this book is kind of confusing and has an experimental feel to it. Brussolo has invented a world where mediums exist, and no, not the kind of medium that is psychic. These mediums have the ability to go into a deep trance-like dream for days, during which weird, smoky stuff floats out of their mouths and congeals into an ectoplasm thing upon waking. Let that sink in for a minut ...more
Charles Dee Mitchell
Feb 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary-sf

We begin in media heist.

David Sarella works with a trusted crew. His accomplice Nadia is a gorgeous redhead dressed in black leather. Jorgo may be a bit simple-headed, but he is an excellent driver. They plan to break into an upscale jewelry store in an exclusive shopping district and empty the safe. Their immediate problem is that the sleek, black automobile they have chosen for this escapade is transforming into a shark. The metal frame has become slimy and the fish smell is unbearable. These
J. Osborne
Apr 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
My favorite book so far this year.
Anniken Haga
Apr 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, sci-fi
3.5/5 stars

This was an... interesting read.
The book has been hanging out on my shelf for quite some time 'cause I was unsure about it. It was short, but I didn't know what to expect. I saw it on booktube when I was watching it actively, and I wanted to try reading a bit more sci-fi, so I bought it when I stumbled over it in the store.
Since then, I have kind of fallen away from sci-fi again, but I finally got around to giving this book a chance.

As said above, it was an interesting read. It was
Mar 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
"If anyone found out, you could be arrested for unlawful dreaming!"

Impeccable dream logic that leads to great moments of catharsis, where you realize what you're reading is totally ridiculous but you don't care because you're having too much fun.

dead dreams were an exceptional source of pollution

Similar in concept to Inception and The Matrix, but it's a lot more fun. Kind of like Heroes Die. My only quibble is that by the end of the first chapter it almost feels as if he's exhausted the possibi
Tyrannosaurus regina
It's hard to describe this book except to say that is is gorgeous and troubling and evocative and feels utterly original.
Ed Erwin
Dec 27, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf, sf-francaise
About 10 years ago I started reading SF books in French to help improve my language skills. It is more fun for me to read modern books in SF than to try to read the classics, and the language is much closer to what is currently spoken as well. (Though SF, and especially fantasy, often has many made-up words.)

Along the way I've discovered some really interesting writers, most of whose works have never been translated to English. Serge Brussolo is not one of my favorites, yet his work is consisten
Jan 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs
I was lucky enough to receive an advance reader's copy of The Deep Sea Diver's Syndrome. It's Brussolo's first book translated into English, so I'm hopeful that more will follow. Much like how the character David created a tangible world in his dreams, so Brussolo created such a world in this book. A world in which works of art literally come from the minds of dreamers, with rules and hazards all its own. From the very first page, I was drawn into the world of the story by the author's juicy lan ...more
Jan 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
They call this book a neo noir but I think it's more of a dream like fantasy. David is a professional jewel thief in his "dreams". Along with his accomplice Nadia, the pair breaks into museums and high end jewelry stores escaping on motorcycles. This book was an easy read but I found it a bit wanting in the reality department. It is a great read if you like fantasy and noir which I do on occasion. I highly recommend this book.
Feb 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-bookshelf
Strange and unusual is the best I can do to describe this novel. But, a good weird it was. Was it truly all a dream? Maybe a living nightmare? I feel like there are multiple angles to approach this story, as well as myriad ways to explore what it truly means. This is one of those little nuggets that land on a college syllabus.
C.F. Villion
Feb 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished it ages ago but had no idea how to review it...

I love weird and strange and this sure had that in spades. At best I can say, read it and judge for yourself. :)
Sep 12, 2020 rated it liked it
Fantasmagoric with a beautifully surreal dream logic within the dreams, unfortunately Brussolo's style doesn't really add a greater depth or realism to the waking world. He's not very good at fleshing out characters, details, worlds so that the dream world and the real world both have a hazy, unfinished quality.

The book is strikingly imaginative, and the illogic and development of the dream heists us truly transportative and fun. But it's not enough to sustain a book.

You have a birdsnest of good
Brian Berrett
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a fun story. If you are familiar with Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series it will remind you of Tel'aran'rhiod (his dreamworld). It also reminded me of an old Twilight Zone episode called A Stop at Willoughby! If you are interested, check it out, it is very similar.

I did enjoy the book. I enjoyed the dreamworld. I found it curious he was like his father living two lives. I enjoyed the attempted theft of the painting named after a department store (his mother was a shoplifter in a depar
Ben Lund
Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Not what I expected, but enjoyable all the same. A little bit of everything in here. There were some sad parts, some parts when I really disliked the main character, but it's really a dystopian world he's painting. It feels kind of like the end of 1984, minus Big Brother. Sad, and a very abrupt ending, I wanted to know what happened next, but Brussolo was done.
May 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
The ideas, premise, and imagery were truly fantastic. The protagonist was totally flat for me. I have a feeling I’ll be thinking about this book for awhile, but the experience of the book was pretty average. It was like going to a shoe-gazer concert.
Keith Hock
Jun 07, 2018 rated it liked it
This book does a great job of employing and executing dream logic for both its dream and regular worlds. I liked it a lot. Except for the very unsatisfying ending, which was doubtless by design but no less frustrating for being so.
Michael Burianyk
Mar 21, 2018 rated it liked it
An enjoyable translation from the French. Sort of Science Fiction. Sort of Fantasy. More than just strange. Edward Gauvin’s translation is fluent and smooth.
Jul 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love dream fantasies and this is one of the best. A little strange, a little abrupt, a little too clever for my taste - but still suffused with a genuine sense of wonder.
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm a deep sea diver, I work in the artworld and recently I've been glomming onto my dreams. Suffice to say I was really really excited to read this book and therefore, not surprisingly, I was a little disappointed.

It's a short book and it moves quickly. I was most of the way through before I started to get into it's rhythm and fully appreciate the world within, only to realize it was already wrapping up. I found myself wanting more, wishing for more world-building. I wanted to dive deeper (no
Sep 23, 2016 rated it liked it
This is an English translation of a French novel, originally published in 1992. The book presents us with a unique idea about mediums and art. From the cover flap: “They call them Mediums – professional dreamers who dive into the dream world to retrieve items that convert to valuable artworks in the waking world. What’s more, the more dangerous the dream, the more valuable that art becomes.” You are never told exactly what these artworks were made of, but enough hints are given for the reader to ...more
Nov 27, 2016 rated it did not like it
It became evident what the ending of the book would be by the second chapter, so in order for me to enjoy the book the author had to make the telling interesting. He failed. I made it to about page 80 before I stopped reading. Some of the main reasons for stopping:

* Obscenity (particularly against Catholicism, but not limited to that) - I'm not overly prudish, but I felt that Brussolo pushed the envelope and I found it distasteful. It felt like reading a school-boy's attempts at being naughty, w
Read Ng
May 01, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
Just something that caught my eye as I was browsing the shelves. I think the translation from French to English was just slightly off. Just a word here or there that from some reason did not seem to exactly feel right. It was hard for me to nail it down. Perhaps that is why I did not rate it as highly as I hoped.

Overall a good fantasy world where dreams form tangible items in the real world that are traded and enjoyed. Old masterpieces have become junk and routinely discarded. The dreamers 'dive
Mason Jones
Enjoyable, quick read for fans of vaguely surrealist imaginative fiction. The cover blurbs namecheck Ballard and Philip K Dick, and while that's not wrong, this is a more alternate-world tale of a man who "dives" deep into his dreams, interprets them as near-reality, and by stealing things brings them out of his dreams in the form of ectoplasmic trinkets to be sold by a museum. The conceit is clever and well-done, while our protagonist David is a hapless case who doesn't bring in the monumental ...more
World Literature Today
"[The Deep Sea Diver's Syndrome] is an engagingly written, relentlessly imaginative work of genius, something that will make you believe in the power of books again. Forgive me for comparing this to a film, but this book is like Christopher Nolan’s Inception (though the original novel predates this film by more than a decade) as directed by Michel Gondry: a supreme work of imagination, rendered brilliantly." - J. David Osborne

This book was reviewed in the May/August 2016 issue of World Literatur
May 15, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is really special. It doesn't feel so much like a story as like one mad man's introspective monologue or nightmare.
But on the plus side the universe created bu Brussolo once more is fascinating.
Isabelle | Nine Tale Vixen
I've always been fascinated by dreams and lucid dreaming in particular, but I didn't really like any of the main characters and some of the concepts presented were just too far "out there" for me to suspend disbelief enough to fully enjoy the story.
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The TDF Read Anyt...: The Deep Sea Diver's Syndrome 1 4 Apr 04, 2016 09:57AM  

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Serge Brussolo est un écrivain français de science-fiction, de fantastique, de thriller et de roman historique né le 31 mai 1951 à Paris.

Il vécut une dure enfance tourmentée, principalement à cause de la folie de sa mère. Il eut très tôt la vocation de l'écriture et, dès l'âge de douze ans, commença à chercher à se faire publier. Après avoir suivi des études de lettres et de psychologie, il exerce

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