Would I take SkipSleep? This question I considered in this video where I chat through (quite unnaturally and in a goofy way) Crowned Worthy and why I wrote it. Firstly, you might be thinking - what the earth is SkipSleep?
Well, SkipSleep is a key part of the my debut novel, Crowned Worthy. It's a tech-assisted drug that allows citizens of Tulo to skip sleep (clue's in the name) and go on working towards their merit-scores.
Here is an extract of the novel where the main protagonist, Ajay Ambers, takes the drug and thinks about it's effects:
He also knew he was tired. His eyes felt like they were going to fall from their sockets. With that sensation, he sat up with motivation. Come on, he thought. He tucked his black hair behind his ears and swiped the activation pad embedded within the glass coffee table in front of him.
The SkipSleep System elevated itself from underneath the table. It was an elegantly designed cuboid, about thirty centimetres in height and fifteen in width, crafted together with strong, silver Tuloian steel. Its mechanical voice soothed Ajay, anticipating his imminent refreshment. Ajay, how many hours’ worth of SkipSleep would you like this evening? He was given the options from 1 to 4 hours. He probably didn’t need as much as usual, given his dangerous slumber the night before. Then again, if the system allowed him the maximum dose, then he’d be an idiot not to take it. Ajay selected 4 on his Watch and placed his forearm comfortably onto the black cushion inside the box. Above his arm hung the syringe needle, which glinted slightly in the reflection of the City’s lights from outside. The system detected his arm was in position, and released its metal straps around his wrist and top of his forearm to tie him down. The coolness of its metal was always a welcome touch in the desert’s heat. Ajay could feel the tingle of technology running up his arms as the moderation scan began; it creeped across his chest and into his brain to determine whether his body’s chemical levels were stable.
Moderation Scan Complete. Dosage level accepted. The needle began its work, lowering itself smoothly towards Ajay’s arm, much like a snake would hang from a tree and inspect its dinner. *SkipSleep in progress.* Ajay didn’t even wince as the injection went deep through his skin and he watched the red progress bar creep closer to 100%. Proteins, iron, multivitamins, creatine, Fo Doktrin and other natural herbs were being slowly absorbed by his body. Fo Doktrin was a plant that grew wildly in Tulo country and infected most of the Side. It brutally destroyed most other plant populations in the desert, but when cut, boiled and prepared, its vitamins and health benefits were anything but brutal. Their effects would be obvious within an hour or so, and Ajay looked forward to it. That fresh wave of energy without the need for sleep.
So, would I take it?
I said on the video that I didn't know. My hesitation is because of the safety implications. While Tulo Command has made SkipSleep safe by regulating dosages, we discover in the novel that it is illegally dealt at a black market. We also see the heavy and life-destroying complications that can result of too much of it.
Yet, if I were part of Tulo society, where everyone else is taking it to get ahead, I probably would end up taking it. There would be some serious advantages to having to sleep less; think of all the books that could be written and jobs that could be done! However, as we see in the novel, that luxury isn't all it's made up to be.
Plus, I love sleep and what would life be like without dreams?
It's a real dilemma!