Typical spoiler warning. I want to work out the themes of the book which requires specific details from the book.
So generally speaking Lathe of Heaven is about an unfortunate man who’s dreams have the power to change reality. He’s afraid of this power and this sends him on a drug induced downward spiral until he’s eventually forced into psychiatric help. The doctor then discovers this power and begins to manipulate the dreams via hypnotic suggestion, trying to change reality for the better. Which each new alteration, a benevolent intention often has some pretty terrible implementations. Think genie wish tricks.
This is one of those stories where I’m not sure what relevance the message has in real life. One of the things I like about certain sci-fi is that it can abstract an idea from life or some human characteristic and outline it with, or question it by, placing it in unfamiliar territory. You get to test the construction of some philosophies or beliefs that you’ve maybe taken for granted. With this book however, while it has some interesting questions you can ask yourself, I just haven’t been able to tie them into life.
The only real question I found was “Would you do it?” or “Is the doctor wrong?”. I’m sure I probably would. I’d at least give it a couple tries. Maybe if things didn’t work out so great I wouldn’t keep trying, but I don’t know why you wouldn’t try. The doctor isn’t really painted as a bad guy, just overly ambitious and maybe a bit farsighted (a lot farsighted I guess). The general attitude seems to be that you shouldn’t try to change things. Not like, you shouldn’t work towards change, but that you literally shouldn’t change the past or how things are. Which, I don’t know, I’m not sure I agree, but we can’t. Why have the conversation at all?