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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Our book reviewer Alan Cheuse is no doctor, but he does have a cure for the winter blues, a healthy dose of science fiction. Here's his prescription.

ALAN CHEUSE: Are suffering from sleepless nights? Charlie Huston's new novel, "Sleepless," may be just what you need to get through the dark. "Sleepless" is about an insomnia plague spreading across Southern California and the rest of the country. The disease first keeps you awake and after a couple of months kills you. It's turned L.A. upside down causing riots and gun battles in the streets and driving even the healthy toward the brink. Meanwhile, a big pharma company seems to have developed a drug called Dreamer. It's a very expensive treatment for the disease, if not a full cure, and everybody wants it.

Enter a police detective named Parker, whose wife is suffering from the disease, leaving the care of their small child mostly to him and charging him with a hope that he can find some Dreamer to help her condition. If following Parker on his dangerous quest to find the drug doesn't keep you awake, and I really think it will, you can pick up the new Douglas Preston novel, "Impact," in which human beings find themselves threatened at the planet level by strange bombardments coming from the direction of Mars.

The science laced through the story comes right out of today's science news. I had a lot of fun following an American intelligence freelancer named Wyman Ford and a college-bound female science student from the jungles of Cambodia to the barren islands off the coast of Maine as they join forces to try and head off the menace from outer space. Well, I said you can pick up this new one. If you love this variety of narrative fiction, you will and should do it. Night is coming.

SIEGEL: The books are "Sleepless" by Charlie Huston and "Impact" by Douglas Preston. Our reviewer is Alan Cheuse.

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