The first five minutes of Source Code.
George Orr has effective dreams. They started the day the bomb was dropped on Portland, Oregon. He thought he had radiation poisoning and lay down and began dreaming. Thus begins The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula LeGuinn.
George’s dreams change reality but no one remembers the world before his dreams. He becomes suicidal and takes an overdose of pills to stop his dreams. He is then sent to a dream doctor, Dr. Haber, who is to help cure him of his dreams. Dr. Haber reveals that he daydreams of saving the girl or even the whole world. He eventually realizes what is happening with Orr’s dreams and decides he can change the world for the better, be it overpopulation or race relations or world strife.
The problem with George’s dreams is that while they attack a real problem, the solution can never be controlled. Overpopulation? Kill off 6 billion people with a plague. Race problems? Turn everyone gray. World strife? Bring aliens to the earth to unite earth’s inhabitants.
At one point (taking dialogue from the 1980 PBS film of the book) the two discuss their individual views of our place in the world:
George: You can’t use my dreams to change things. …Haber: Isn’t that purpose of man on earth… to change things?George: Things don’t have purposes. I don’t know if life has a purpose. It is; we are. …You change one thing and everything changes.
Haber reveals later on that George’s dream cycle has a unique 12 second pattern. It completes and then starts again. But George is told in one of his dreams by an alien that “if help is wanted, seek within.”
And by the end of the work [spoiler alert], George realizes that four years before when the bomb was dropped, in his last 12 seconds of living he had a dream that he was alive. And as long as he continues to dream, the world will exist.
For an ecopy of the book check out hereFor the 1980 PBS version of The Lathe of Heaven, start here
Colter Stevens has a similar problem to George Orr. He’s a soldier whose mission is to return to a doomed train where everyone died and he has eight minutes to find the bomb and protect the world from the bomber who has an even bigger bomb ready. Over and over again, he returns to the train for his new eight minutes. Can he save the girl? Can he save the world? Can he change history? In a tightly constructed plot, this thoughtful thriller allows the viewer to care for Colter and Christina and the others on the train car while pondering existential questions of existence. Each return (like the various GroundHog Days of that famous movie) brings new insights.
The Source Code Trailer:
Feature on filming the train sequences
Ground Hog Day Trailer
George Orr at one point in the work where Haber thinks he's cured him from dreaming says:
Wouldn’t it be funny if I wasn’t the only who can dream effectively.What if everybody could do it and reality was being pulled out from under us all the time and we didn’t even know it?It's a thought to ponder with each of these works.