Kate Wilhelm. The Bird Cage. (Fantasy & Science Fiction, Jan/Feb 2011).

A science thriller, although perhaps as suspenseful as it might be.

There are side effects out of scientific research, funded by a multi-millionaire with a terminal illness. The crux of the story is initially what is happening to two adults, one the brother of, and the other, a school friend of, a man who has volunteered for that research. He is in an induced deep, long sleep, and his dreams are affecting this pair, who see flashbacks to childhood events with him, but from his perspective.

The story shifts, sometimes awkwardly, between their perspective and that of the head of the research team. The suspense is developed through them trying to find out his whereabouts, and to find out what exactly is going on. Once this happens, it’s a bit of an anti-climax, albeit with a major decision by the research, but that decision doesn’t have much of an impact on the reader on the basis of the rather two-dimensional nature of the character on whom the impact of that decision is felt.

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