The Sleep of Reason
Roots: The novel opens with graffiti etched into the wall of Bethlehem Royal Hospital (a.k.a. Bedlam). There are references to National Enquirer, New Scientist, the Beano, Barbie, Longfellow, St. Joan, Darwin, Bram Stoker, The Rocky Horror Show, Freud, Jung, Lacan, the Bible, Marks and Spencer, the Cure, Napoleon, Countdown, the Daily Mail, Radio Four, Princess Anne, Coronation Street, Three Colours: Blue, Alice in Wonderland, the Wright Brothers, Betty Blue, Amnesiac, Charley Dimmock, the Radio Times, Watercolour Challenge, Superman, Limp Bizkit, Top Gear, Top of the Pops, Nebuchadnezzar, Edgar Allen Poe, James Stewart in Harvey, Don't Look Know, the British Medical Journal, Metro, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, Bill Clinton, the Jackson Five, Playboy, Ford, Triumph, Peter Greenaway, The Simpsons, Casualty, Hamlet, Baron Munchausen, Andrex, Bruce Willis, Sid James, Peter Pan (there is a reference to Tinkerbell), and Coleridge. The Doctor is described as a cross between Lord Byron and Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen. Caroline/Laska is named after Lou Reed's "Caroline Says" quotes from the Bible ('My eyes are everywhere, watching the evil and the good') and compares the Doctor to Superman, Jesus Christ, the Cheshire Cat and Miss Marple. There is also a reference to the Verve's "The Drugs Don't Work". Girl Interrupted, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Thing, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Hammer Horror films (the Doctor's emergence from the casket), The Lord of the Rings (the pendant's effect on its owner is similar to that of the Ring), The Doctor compares himself to Hercule Poirot and he and the Doctor quote The Drugs Don't Work by the Verve ('the drugs don't work?' 'They just make it worse?'), Thompson paraphrases Eminem's The Real Slim Shady ('Will the real Laska Darnell please stand up?')
Martin Day helpfully provided a complete list (or at least as complete as he can remember) of song lyrics and titles which are referenced by the chapter titles, which is right here. 'Dreams Never End' New Order; 'Do You Remember the First Time?' is by Pulp; 'Suicide Isn't Painless' is by Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine; 'Architecture and Morality' is an LP by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark; 'There's a Ghost in My House' is by R. Dean Taylor (later covered by the Fall); 'Frontier Psychiatrist' (singular) is by the Avalanches; 'Caroline Says' is by Lou Reed; 'I've got My TV and My Pills' is by Julian Cope; 'Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity' is (I believe) from the Catholic Mass (as quoted by Tom Baker in a documentary for the fortieth anniversary of Who I was watching while writing the book); 'I'll Be Your Mirror' is by the Velvet Underground; 'Cellar Door' is mentioned in the film Donnie Darko; 'The Place You Fear the Most' is by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark; 'The Stolen Child' is a poem by W.B. Yeats, put to music by the Waterboys; 'Mad World' is by Tears for Fears (a cover version appears in Donnie Darko, of course), as is 'The Start of the Breakdown'; 'Spy vs Spy (Life's a Riot)' references the old comic strip, of course, and an LP by Billy Bragg; 'A Million Manias' and 'Torment' are both by Marc and the Mambas (Marc Almond); Sylvia Plath's novel is called The Bell Jar; 'Where is My Mind?' is by the Pixies; Basket Case is a notorious film (and a song by Green Day); 'Where's Your Head at?' is by Basement Jaxx; 'A Hideous Strength' is a quote from the Waterboys, which itself references C.S. Lewis's inspirational novel, That Hideous Strength; 'Dominion' was, I think, a song by the Sisters of Mercy (and of course a nod to the quotation from Poe); 'The Lunatics Have Taken over the Asylum' is by the Fun Boy Three; 'Kill Your Sons' is by Lou Reed; 'Matters of Life and Death' references the Powell/Pressburger film A Matter of Life and Death; 'The World, the Flesh and the Devil' is from (Anglican?) Christian liturgy/theology; 'O King of Chaos' is a song by Julian Cope; 'No Surprises' is a song by Radiohead; 'No One Here Gets Out Alive' is a reference to the Doors; 'A Person Isn't Safe Anywhere These Days' is by the Chameleons; 'Sweet Unknown' is by the Hope Blister; 'Time's Tides' is a tiny quotation from the Smiths; 'The Sleep of Reason' and 'The Dream of Reason' are two translations of the title of Goya's etching El Sueno de la Razon Produce Monstruos ("The sleep/dream of reason produces monsters") - there's another tiny reference to Goya buried somewhere in the text; 'There by the Grace of God' is by the Manic Street Preachers; 'This is the Way the World Ends' is a quote from T.S. Eliot's 'The Hollow Men'; 'Soldier Girl' is by the Polyphonic Spree; 'She's Leaving' is by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark; 'Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)' is by Green Day; 'P.S. Goodbye' is by the Chameleons; and 'Cuckoo's Nest' is a reference to Ken Kesey's magnificent novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (and of course the film of the same title). Some of the bracketed chapter titles continue the main title, e.g. 'In Fact it Hurts Like Hell' is a continuation of the lyric 'Suicide Isn't Painless', 'Reflect What You Are' follows on from 'I'll Be Your Mirror', etc.
Goofs: It seems rather unlikely that Laska wouldn't have been aware that her father's GP had been accused of assisting him in his suicide.
On page 156, Torby notes that the Reverend Macksey has agreed to perform the last rites over Haward; it should be Sands, as Haward doesn't die until later on.
Dialogue Disasters: Laska: [to Fitz] 'Think of me when you're bedding alien babes and women from outer space'
Dialogue Triumphs: 'Do you ever feel the need to tidy up a room - really tidy it, right down to the things that have been there so long, you've almost forgotten to see them? And have you noticed how you normally emerge from that tidying process feeling better, more positive? As if you've made a fresh start. And yet, from one point of view, what difference does it make, if you tidy a single room of your house? Does it feed the poor, establish world peace, bring order to a chaotic cosmos? Of course it doesn't - and yet we still experience the compulsion to try to put things right.'
Joe: 'To travel out there; in the cosmos - and to have that freedom taken from you... Can you imagine what it's like to see the stars not as a mere backdrop to everyday life, but the very place where you roam? The almost limitless freedom... It's almost impossible to describe'
The Doctor: 'I am the Doctor - in the very broadest sense of the word'
The Doctor: [of the chapel] 'I never did like that place'
Laska: 'You prefer a mausoleum?'
The Doctor: 'Odd, isn't it?'
Continuity: The Sholem-Luz have passed into the mythology of numerous worlds including Earth, and are also known as the Dead Lords of the Everlasting. Legends of the Sholem-Luz were known in Bronze Age Persia and medieval China. They create tunnels within the fabric of space and time which make a tremendous mess of the space-time continuum and can ride the Time Winds without physical or mental illness because according to every accepted biological definition they are already dead. According to the Doctor, they cannot be communicated with. They require an external energy source such as fire and mental illness in order to reproduce, as well as raw material such as human corpses, at which point they create seeds that can be scattered on the Time Winds each one containing a single Sholem-Luz as well as fully grown adult Sholem-Luz. The seeds are capable of infecting organisms and taking control of them. The seed initially seeks out a primitive creature such as a dog which it needs to give it corporeal form and energy, and then uses its host to find a higher life form such as a human. Infected organisms can sustain normally lethal injuries with ease, and can infect other creatures via a bite. The Sholem-Luz will then seek out and collect carbon-based material (e.g. human corpses) and melt it all down via fire, leaving raw materials which can then be used to create adult Sholem-Luz and more seeds. They draw energy from negative emotions (e.g. hatred, fear). The adult Sholem-Luz have humanoid torsos and numerous, multi-jointed legs. They have pale grey skin and dark, round eyes. One civilisation worships them as gods. The Doctor doesn't think he has met them before.
The Doctor again uses the alias Doctor Smith and forges credentials as a psychiatrist to gain a job at the Retreat. He rents a cottage in the grounds of the hospital, where he, Fitz and Trix live for several months. Fitz and Trix claim to be mature students researching Victorian attitudes to the mentally ill. The Doctor knows a cure for "feeling a bit under the weather", which contains fresh lemon, a pint of dry sherry, four banana leaves, and an ounce of red saffron. The Sholem-Luz are drawn to the Doctor due to his familiarity with grief. Stranded in 1904 without the TARDIS, the Doctor spends several months tracking the survivors of the Sholem-Luz attack, before spending a century in a self-induced coma in a stone tomb in the crypt beneath Mausolus House/the Retreat. The Doctor is prevented from meeting his future self by an instinctive fear whenever they come into close proximity.
Fitz knows a hotel in Puerto Rico that used to be a brothel. The possessed James Abel breaks Fitz's nose by head butting him. He has never got the hang of French.
Thomson spent seven years at medical school, including a degree in archaeology and an elective in Uganda.
Before becoming a hospital the Retreat was an asylum and before that a workhouse. It was used as a base for the Home Guard during the Second World War. In the 1960s someone tried to buy it to turn it into a block of flats, but this fell through.
Links: When asked if he's ever been married, the Doctor replies "Not as a such", a reference to his marriage to Scarlette in The Adventuress of Henrietta Street.
Location: Mausolus House, England, 24th to 25th December 1903 and 3rd May 1904; the Retreat, England, c2004.
Unrecorded Adventures: The Doctor, Fitz and Trix have been at the Retreat for approximately five months at the start of this story.
The Doctor tried to warn Alaska about Seward's expansionist policy. He recalls sitting at a café on the banks of the Loire.
Fitz implies that he, Trix and the Doctor have a number of adventures between leaving the Retreat after the fire and returning to see Laska off.
The Bottom Line (prosecution): Whilst it succeeds in creating a sense of atmosphere, The Sleep of Reason feels like a short story that has been stretched out to fill a book - a problem not helped by telling the story entirely from the perspective of the supporting characters. This results in a great number of scenes that, whilst well written, are quite obviously filler. The Sleep of Reason isn't a bad story, it's just got too little plot to fill the length of a novel.
The Bottom Line (Defence): A superbly written novel with three-dimensional, believable characters, and a thoughtful plot. Laska is a great character, and Day's use of her as a point of focus for the reader works extremely well, since she's far more interesting and real than either Fitz or Trix. The insight into depression is extremely well handled.