Dreaming Is a Private Thing

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"Dreaming Is a Private Thing"
Author Isaac Asimov
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Science fiction short story
Published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
Publication type Periodical
Publisher Fantasy House
Media type Print (Magazine)
Publication date December 1955

"Dreaming Is a Private Thing" is a science fiction short story by Isaac Asimov, first published in the December 1955 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and reprinted in the 1957 collection Earth is Room Enough. Asimov's original title for the story was "A Hundred Million Dreams at Once", but F&SF editor Tony Boucher changed it, and Asimov liked the new title so kept it.

Plot summary[edit]

Jesse Weill is founder and owner of Dreams Inc, a company that produces dreams for the individual's private use, just as films used to be viewed, although they've been superseded by 'dreamies'. Dreamies can be viewed in private at home by anyone with the equipment and cash to buy or rent them (like present day videos or DVDs). They are produced by specially trained individuals, often social loners or eccentrics as a result of their intensive training over many years.

Weill is shown a new development—under-the-counter pornographic dreamies—and asked by the government to assist in cracking down on them. Meanwhile, he interviews a ten year old boy as a potential dreamer, a lucrative occupation if he turns out to be suitable and undergoes training.

He also gets told by one of his best dreamers that he does not want to work any more, as it is ruining family life, the dreamer also feels he has lost himself. But Weill knows from experience that the dreamer can't stop dreaming once he's become used to that way of life, even if he wants to.

One of Weill's staff tells him that a competing company is opening a chain of 'dream palaces', where everyone can absorb the same dream simultaneously, but he is of the opinion that it will not work. As he says, dreaming is a private thing.