Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Dream Master” as Want to Read:
The Dream Master
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Dream Master

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  2,466 ratings  ·  130 reviews
His name is Charles Render, and he is a psychoanalyst, and a mechanic of dreams. A Shaper. In a warm womb of metal, his patients dream their neuroses, while Render, intricately connected to their brains, dreams with them, makes delicate adjustments, and ultimately explains and heals. Her name is Eileen Shallot, a resident in psychiatry. She wants desperately to become a Sh ...more
Paperback, 252 pages
Published February 27th 2001 by ibooks Inc. (first published October 1966)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Dream Master, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Douglas Milewski The Dream Master is about a psychiatry technique, of dream manipulation, gone wrong. The Lathe of Heaven is a time-travel story, where a particular pe…moreThe Dream Master is about a psychiatry technique, of dream manipulation, gone wrong. The Lathe of Heaven is a time-travel story, where a particular person's dreams change the past, and thus, the present.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.63  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,466 ratings  ·  130 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Dream Master
Oct 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: scifi
If you ever saw the movie Inception, I really do not need to describe the book to you; all of the major ideas of the movie came straight out of this book. Anyhow, Charles Render is a Shaper, in other words he is a psychiatrist who treats people by entering their dreams and changing them for the benefit of the patients. When a woman asks him to help her become a Shaper he is sure it is completely impossible in her case as she is blind from birth. He is still interested enough to try. In fact he i ...more
Feb 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Did anyone else think of this classic 60s SF novel when they watched Inception? I certainly did.
I don’t know why this one is largely under the radar. Imaginative, nicely written, vision of the future which isn’t so wrong -love the dog.

But is there anybody who has read this and understands the ongoing part of the man walking along the road who ends up killing himself? Is this Render? Is this how he escapes being trapped in another person’s dream? Is everything that happens in the book a dream except for this part of it?

rest here: https://alittleteaalittlechat.wordpre...
Aug 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Dream Master is a classic Nebula Award winning novel that isn't as well-remembered as it should be. Perhaps it's been overshadowed by Lord of Light and the Amber books... it's a moving, well-written piece, and deserves a wider current audience. ...more
Dan Schwent
Jan 10, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: zelazny
Charles Render is a Shaper, a type of psychiatrist who adminsters therapy via sort of a psychic virtual reality. Enter Eileen Shallot, a woman blind from birth who wants to be a Shaper and wants Render to teach her to see.

I actually don't have a lot to say about this one. While I liked it, it was a little on the meh side of the Zelazny spectrum. I really liked the Shaper concept and the talking dogs but didn't really care about the characters.
Erik Graff
Oct 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in psychodynamics or Zelazny
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sf
I encountered the novella in a Nebula Awards Collection while in college, then acquired the expanded version years later. Both were impressive, the novella moreso.

The question of inner states, of private thoughts has long intrigued me. As B.F. Skinner was apt to point out, the only aspect of human being which is scientifically scrutinizable currently is objective human behavior. I will go futher and assert that subjectivity does not exist in any strong sense. There are no truly private thoughts.
This story leaves me very confused. It's not that I totally disliked it, but I'm also not sure that I could follow till the end what was going on. It probably would help to discuss it with other readers. ...more
Jan 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Compared to modern SF novels the length of this book might almost be closer to being a short story than a novel but Zelazny does mange to pack more ideas into a short space than many other manage in much longer works.

The main character, Render, is a dream therapist who works by manipulating the dreams of his patients to turn them into immersive experiences where Render shapes the dreams to help his clients gain new perspectives on their issues. This is a perilous occupation since if the therapi
Huh. I just finished reading The Dream Master, and I’m not quite sure what to say. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I didn’t quite understand everything.

I know that this was originally based on a Nebula-winning novella called He Who Shapes, and I definitely wonder if the novella is the superior version of this story. It seemed like there were a lot of scenes and sections that weren’t really necessary.

But, once again—maybe I just didn’t get it.

Sometimes when I read Zelazny, I’ll come across
Keso Shengelia
Evoked an automatic association with Christopher Nolan's "Inception". Not one of Zelazny's best, but it is a good one.
აი თურმე რა ქონდა ინსპირაციად ნოლანს ინსეფშენზე რო გადაკიდა ხალხი ერთმანეთს
ის ბზრიალა ტიტრების შემდეგ დავარდა and other hilarious jokes you can tell yourself
შეიძლება საუკეთესო არ არის მაგრამ მაინც ზელაზნია და შესაბამისად რეკომენდაცია გაწეულიც <3
Aug 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
"The universe did not invent justice. Man did. Unfortunately, man must reside in the universe."

A little hard to review this one. It's one of those books that I like even though it makes me feel very intellectually diminished. It makes me feel like a ape trying to figure out sarcasm, to put it simply.

You see, even though I clearly missed a lot of references to a lot of things, I feel I did understood more than less of what was going on, but some parts I just didn't understand. Some simply seemed
Sep 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I feel I should give this rating a disclaimer. If this book were not a re-read, if I had come into it completely new, it would have been a 3 to 3.5 for me. But the memories I have of this book are so pervasive and so revolutionary back when I read it that I can't give anything that formative less than five.

Honestly, these recollections were not all The Dream Master. I just started cutting my teeth on "adult" sci-fi at the time, and threw myself recklessly at anything that purported to be a class
Jan 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love this story. The fact that it can be construed as circular (and there are some good arguments to this effect) really adds to my enjoyment of the story, and it's something that can really only be appreciated under certain conditions (which is one of the reasons I rated it shy of perfection):
* you have to read it more than once to catch it
* you have to be familiar with some of the symbolic imagery, such as kabalism
* familiarity with a couple different versions of Tristan & Isolde, since n
T.N Kaz
Oct 04, 2016 rated it it was ok
Terribly anti-climactic and contrived plot. Paper thin characters. Cringeworthy romance. Typos and errors galore. The only salvageable aspect is the writing itself, which pushed me to get through this book as fast as I possibly could. Not quite sure how this won a Nebula Award....
Jan 04, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, 1966
It's fine.

Starts out as a simple enough story of a dream doctor who wants to teach a blind woman to do his job. There's also a talking dog.

It then becomes really confusing and I honestly have no idea what was going on in some parts. Probably someone took too much LSD.
Jun 06, 2019 rated it liked it
I feel so odd bestowing a mere three stars upon a Nebula-winning novel. The concept is creative and intelligent, the language is beautiful and powerful, the world-building is (as usual with Zelazny) effective... but I think the main character just didn't engage me. I neither liked Render nor cared enough about him to disregard my lack of liking, so I felt no stake in the progress of the narrative. I think I would find much more compelling a version of this story from Eileen's point of view. ...more
Seton Catholic Central High
This book talks about the some of neuron-technology in the future, which is the kind of the technology to solve the some of the hidden psychological problem in the people's mind by modifying people's dream. The people being modified would be lying in a simulator and, the people who solve them would be able to go into the dream, and do something in the patient's dream in order to inflect the direction that the dream goes. Just like the movie Inception, the people's dream is connected with people' ...more
Deborah Ideiosepius
The Dream Master was originally published as a novella titled He Who Shapes and I think that in many ways it is far more of a novella than a novel. I don't know how much changed before it became the novel it is today, but the novella won a Nebula Award in 1966.

Zelazny is one of my favourite all time authors but my recent re-reading of this book confirmed that this book is not one of my favourites of his despite it having impressed the 1966 Nebula judges. The setting is a 'far future' one with hi
Denzil Pugh
The Dream Master is the second full length novel written by Zelazny in 1966. The title page informs the reader that it had been a serialized short story in a magazine. Unfortunately, it reads like a fleshed out, stretched short story. It becomes disjointed, a series of scenes seemingly unconnected and written at different times, so much so you can tell which parts are original, and which parts are added.

The main story deals with Render, a psychologist who has become known as a pioneer in the ne
Sep 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first half or so of the book was pretty rough; it was a little preachy and awkward, trying a little hard, and moreover tediously brought in a lot of usual Zelazny elements: writes himself into the book as someone attractive to women and generally superior to his colleagues (but unwilling to engage in direct competition), there is some form of magic, and there is obsession with death.

But the details and setting were nice and interesting, and even in the rough parts there were interesting elem
Lee Krieger
I originally read this book back in the early 80's and remembered it fondly.
I just reread it and was sadly disappointed.

Maybe they just floated over my head when I read them as a young adult, but the endless obscure literary references got increasingly annoying, and I kept wondering what they had to do with the story. It was as if Zelazny was trying to impress his readers with his vast knowledge and understanding of science, music and literature... like it was a job interview.

Dude... what happe
Stuart Dean
This book won the Nebula Award so it must be great, but I just don't see it. It's like Zelazny had just read a book on psychotherapy and wanted to impress his readers with his vast knowledge of the subject. And it reads like a short story stretched into a novel.

It's about a a future psychiatrist who can enter people's dreams and give them therapy. He meets a blind girl who wants him to use his technique to show her what it's like to see. He is warned repeatedly that this is a bad idea, where he
May 22, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
This is a story of a Shaper, Charles Render, who is part artist, part psychologist, as he shapes people's dreams to try and cure psychological problems. His latest case is unique: Eileen Shallot, a blind psychologist who wants to become a Shaper herself but must be cured of her sight-neurosis before she can begin.

Being a book about dreams, this book had plenty of dream imagery, whole sections that didn't seem to fit into the main storyline, but which made sense in their own dream-logic. The end
Feb 23, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf
An interesting premise with a weak execution in a needlessly fragmented narrative. It wasn't a long novel but I felt that it would have either worked better as a short story or fleshed out in more depth as a longer novel.

Surprisingly, this book one a nebula award (or so the blurb on the cover claims) which just goes to show that winning an award is not always a good indicator of quality. Despite its award this is not one of Zelazny's well-remembered novels and, as far as I am concerned, for good
Jun 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Myth and psychology intertwine in Zelazny's The Dream Master. In the future, Charles Render, a neuroparticipant therapist- a Shaper- renders mental landscapes for his patients to explore their psyche. Which, of course, is the most dangerous terrain there is. By mixing the trauma of his characters with their realities and the underlying mythic themes which drive the human experience, Zelazny crafts a unique novella. A story about how easy it is to get lost in our trauma. ...more
Dec 05, 2016 rated it really liked it

So I've just finished this, and I'm still mulling it over really. As always with Zelazny it was a very interesting read, which I did enjoy. It, however, was very spasmodic. It felt like so many vignettes, which might have been the idea, but I'm not quite sure why he chose to do it that way. They were interesting, but I'm not sure how that contributed to the story. Perhaps could have had a stronger ending, but I'm not really complaining.
Andrea Turner
Apr 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was an interesting read, however the ending didn't feel complete to me. I also noticed several typos in this edition. ...more
David Caldwell
Aug 20, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Roger Zelazny has been one of my favorite authors for many years now. But some of his books are just harder to read/get into than others. This was one of the hard ones for me. Several reviews said it reminded them of Inception (or more accurately Inception reminded them of this book since it came out in 1966 or so).

The story revolves around a doctor that is the next step of psychology. They "go into" a person's mind and create a dream-like state that helps them to deal with whatever problem whi
T.L. Barrett
Aug 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Every now and then a bibliophile must go through the piles and piles of books he or she owns and justify the occasional trips to used bookstores by actually reading some of the treasures he or she has gathered. This time I picked up this Nebula Award winner first published in novel form in 1964. I wanted to love this book. I didn’t.

The novel focuses on Charles Render a psychologist in near-future America, who has the rare ability via machines to travel into the subconscious mind of a dreamer. It
Feb 28, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, zelazny
Continuing my chronological reading of Zelazny's works, this is his second novel, published, like his first, in 1966. This was my first reading of this novel, and I found it a bit of a disappointment. Charles Render is a psychoanalyst (a "neuroparticipant therapist") and a Shaper of dreams. Render enters the dreams of his patients and controls (shapes) them in order to analyze and treat the patients. (A lot of other reviewers have mentioned the movie Inception, and how this novel apparently insp ...more
« previous 1 3 4 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: This topic has been closed to new comments. Noob Questions: editions, merging, ISBNs, etc 12 95 Sep 28, 2012 08:25AM  
Spoiler alert: Did she took him on purpose? 2 20 Sep 09, 2012 10:53AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Greybeard
  • Stand on Zanzibar
  • Rite of Passage
  • The Inheritors
  • Vulcan's Hammer
  • Majipoor Chronicles (Lord Valentine, #2)
  • Camp Concentration
  • Ring Around the Sun
  • Agents of Light and Darkness (Nightside, #2)
  • Babel-17
  • The Final Programme
  • Oath of Fealty
  • The Enchanted Wanderer
  • Nova
  • Galaxies
  • The Ophiuchi Hotline (Eight Worlds #1)
  • Orbitsville
  • Dimension of Miracles (Dimension of Miracles #1)
See similar books…
Roger Zelazny made his name with a group of novellas which demonstrated just how intense an emotional charge could be generated by the stock imagery of sf; the most famous of these is A Rose for Ecclesiastes in which a poet struggles to convince dying and sterile Martians that life is worth continuing. Zelazny continued to write excellent short stories throughout his career. Most of his novels dea ...more

News & Interviews

  Some people love books. Some people fall in love. And some people fall in love with books about falling in love. Every month our team...
32 likes · 2 comments
“The universe did not invent justice. Man did. Unfortunately, man must reside in the universe.” 29 likes
“A single name of a multitude of practices centered about the auto-driven auto. Flashing across the country in the sure hands of an invisible chauffeur, windows all opaque, night dark, sky high, tires assailing the road below like four phantom buzzsaws—and starting from scratch and ending in the same place, and never knowing where you are going or where you have been—it is possible, for a moment, to kindle some feeling of individuality in the coldest brainpan, to produce a momentary awareness of self by virtue of an apartness from all but a sense of motion. This is because movement through darkness is the ultimate abstraction of life itself—at least that’s what one of the Vital Comedians said, and everybody in the place laughed.” 1 likes
More quotes…