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REVIEW: Dreams in Digital – Nell G. Williams

Dreams in Digital - Nell G. Williams

Genre: Cyberpunk, Erotica

LGBTQ+ Category: Lesbian

Reviewer: H.L.

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About The Book

Post-collapse Seattle, 2068: Jill is a Dreamrunner, an elite hacker who uses the speed and intuition of her subconscious mind to pull off devastating Runs on corporate servers. But while other Runners tie their code and dreams together with scenes of battle or abstract puzzles, Jill’s dreams are of seduction. With deft touches and a few choice whispers, she turns megacorp systems into willing lovers, plying them for secrets.

But when she stumbles onto a mysterious data package, she suddenly finds herself embroiled in a cat and mouse game that threatens her very life. On the run from a conspiracy that grows darker at every turn, can she dream her way out?

Equal parts lesbian fantasy and sci-fi suspense, Dreams in Digital is a fast-paced erotic thriller, a glimpse into a future where the lines between dreams and reality blur.

The Review

Wow – what an absolute triumph of a lesbian cyberpunk erotic thriller.

I absolutely love cyberpunk as a genre, so I was especially eager to read this story. Dreams In Digital is set in a futuristic world where the old order has collapsed, and megacorporations rule. The history of the fall of the old world and the rise of megacorporations is revealed steadily, as anecdotes at the beginning of each of the ten chapters.

Set in 2068, reading this in our capitalist 2020 amidst the current political climate in the United States, made it feel less like science fiction and more like an eerie potential and realistic future. All good science fiction is in some way a reflection of our current world and the way it could develop. At no point during Dreams In Digital did I feel that the story was too outlandish or unrealistic.

The book follows protagonist Jill, who is a Dreamrunner – an elite hacker who uses her subsconscious to infiltrate and hack megacorporations for information and money. Jill is unique amongst the Dreamrunner community: rather than attacks, she uses a technique of seduction, turning the tech systems into lovers. She’s one of the best, but even the best get caught, and soon she’s in trouble and on the run.

Despite it taking me a couple of chapters to understand the world and what exactly was going on, once I did, I was enamoured by the story. Dreams In Digital is extremely well-written with elegant language, superbly paced, and boasts fantastic worldbuilding that was seamlessly constructed. The limited cast was a stellar choice, allowing the reader to get to know Jill and only one or two other side characters as she tries to outrun and outwit the corporations on her tail, so we are never overwhelmed between the worldbuilding and plot.

Jill’s dream-runs as she subconsciously hacked into megacorporation’s networks were sensual and steamy, edged with tension and danger, and absolutely crucial to the plot – everything I love reading in an erotic lesbian thriller.

I was left wanting to read more of Jill’s story, but I think the choice to keep the story tight and contained worked to its favour. While the world that is set up in this story could easily support an epic novel, I’m glad that instead the story ended up being a satisfying, self-contained read about a netrunner getting on the wrong side of a megacorporation. I sincerely hope to read more from Nell G. Williams in the future. 

The Reviewer

H. L. is a Australian writer of LGBT+ fiction. She holds a Master of Arts in International Relations (2015) and a Bachelor of Media in Communications and Journalism (2012), both from the University of New South Wales.

She is a lesbian of Jewish and of Middle Eastern (Egyptian) heritage and is an #OwnVoices writer. She has been writing stories since she was old enough to hold a pen. She is the author of M/M fantasy romance novels Heart Of Dust and Soul Of Ash, Books 1 & 2 of the Death’s Embrace series.

She has had two speculative short stories published: “The Collector” in the 2014 Future Times Award Collection A Tick Tock Heart, and “Entente” in the 2020 Twisted Stories Award Collection Just Alice.   


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