“Dreams are Sacred,” Peter Philips, 1948 – A reporter is asked by a psychiatrist to enter a fantasy writer’s dreams to save him from losing himself in his imagination. A “rapport” is created between two dreaming people through a machine, via amplification of thought waves, to create a virtual dream space.
A more detailed synopsis from Recursive Science Fiction: “Fantasy writer Marsham Craswell has overworked himself following an illness and now lies in a form of unconsciousness where he is living out one of his fantasy worlds. His doctor is afraid if Marsham as Hero dies in the fantasy, then Marsham will be dead in the real world also. The doctor calls upon an old friend, Pete Parnell, hard-headed reporter, to enter the fantasy world using a device developed at the hospital. Marsham tries to write Pete into the fantasy world but the reporter’s cynical realism is enough to bring it all crashing down and to release the writer from his self-induced coma. This is one of the earliest stories of its type. Compare it, for example, with the psychiatric technique used by Lindner in “The Jet-Propelled Couch.” Also see Ian McDonald’s “Empire Dreams.” This was adapted for television in 1969 for the British anthology series Out of the Unknown by David Climie.”
Comments: Also recalls Kuttner’s “Dream’s End” (1947) and anticipates later sf in which an artist is immersed in a virtual environment compared to “creative writing” (see “Creator” by David Lake (1978)). Despite the setting, which could serve as a metaphor for empathy, the story has a bit of a hard boiled, macho tone to it through the reporter, particularly at the end in regard to the cool brunette, whom the reporter plans to “wear down” off-stage in her dreams. Read in Great Tales of Science Fiction, ed. Robert Silverberg and Martin H. Greenberg. The intro notes that this story and “Lost Memory” focus on “paranoia and the nature of reality, subjects that would be taken up by several other writers in the 1950s and beyond.”
Author: English writer, born 1920. ISFDB entry: “Not to be confused with the American author Howard Browne, who used the same name as a pseudonym.”