Lathe of Heaven by Ursula Le Guin
Have you ever had a dream from which you wake up disoriented, thinking "Yikes, that felt so real!"? And come to find that your dream actually changed reality to accommodate what your mind had created in its sleep? No? Well, then you might not be able to relate to this story.
But you COULD imagine what it'd be like, right? The main character, George Orr, has the ability to dream alternate realities for the world. And he fears it. Because no one can really CONTROL dreams. Not even under hypnosis. But I'm getting ahead of myself...
The novel opens up with him being busted for using too much sleep-related drugs to stave off his dreams. He is forced into therapy with a dream psychologist, Dr. Haber. After a few hyno-dreamy sessions, Haber actually manages to suggest something to Orr that changes reality. And it doesn't just change the present day. It changes the whole history of the world, in relation to that dream. And only Haber and Orr know of the change. So now they have two sets of memories.
Haber refuses to believe what has happened at first. Once he comes to terms with Orr's power, he sets out to try to "improve the world" through suggesting things to the hypno-dream-induced Orr. Which never really works out the way it is intended because no one can fully control dreams. What you end up is kind of a genie-in-the-bottle effect:
Say you want to stop your neighbor from blaring loud music at all hours of the night. You want to dream that the neighbor stops playing music. In the dream, that end is met by you not living next to that individual. Instead, you now live across town in a penthouse apartment. Or, your neighbor has been struck by lightening when he/she was ten years old. Now he/she is deaf, and therefor can't listen to music.Stuff like that.
Well, possibly much WORSE stuff. Lots of huge effects come out of Haber trying to "improve the world" through Orr's latent power.
And Orr just wants to be cured.
About the illustration:
Through a series of events (and dreams), aliens are introduced into our reality. They are nice, and left a good impression in my head. They are about nine feet tall and their perpetually-worn bodysuits make them appear turtle-ish. They are assimilited into society and everyday life, and have become good salesmen (sale-iens?) and shop-owners!
They haven't mastered communication with humans, but they understand the power of dreams and the trouble Orr is having. Near the end, when things REALLY get crazy, they give help to Orr by means of a gift. It's a vinyl of the Beatles' "With a Little Help From My Friends." And it really is a help! You want me to spoil Lathe of Heaven for you? In your dreams!
Sketch done in Micron pen and inkwash. Oh my, I am proud of this entry's title!