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Okay, proper review done up And a woman floating outside of time looks to the future and the past for answers to what can save humanity When I read this line, I didn t immediately think about Slaughterhouse Five If I had made the Slaughterhouse Five Billy Pilgrim connection, I would probably have ran screaming in the other direction A Vonnegut fan I am most decidedly not, and Slaughterhouse Five in particular is one of those books that makes my lip curl in disgust when I think about it But I didn t make the connection in the synopsis of Agents of Dreamland, so I committed to reading the book.I can acknowledge that my issues with this book fall under personal taste rather than just bad writing First off is the prose I don t know if this is a trademark of Kiernan s writing and if it is she ll be an author I avoid in the future , but Sweet Baby Cthulhu, Agents of Dreamland is overflowing with metaphors and similes I don t mind the occasional one here and there, but there s definitely a line I draw in the sand Upon further reflection, it was probably deliberately done to add to the sense of unreality given to you from the plot itself, but it was just outright boring after about four pages in.There were elements of the novel that I did like The idea behind the novel itself of spores of an alien civilization seeding itself upon the earth was a fun one I d like to see a fleshed out version of this plot written with a bit of a blunter pen and fitted into the sci fi horror or sci fi thriller categories Obviously, the Lovecraftian references delighted me The ones that I caught, at least I m sure there were some I didn t get There was a snippet of a poem from Lovecraft that she shares near the end of the book that was truly beautiful I have the full poem marked for reading later And I did like the connections she made across the ages to add a bit of depth to the story.However, Kiernan has an interesting mind That cannot be denied And there were portions of Agents of Dreamland that did make me think She also makes some interesting and apt observations about humanity And there was one element in the story that I ve never seen appear in another science fiction novel, so the uniqueness was appreciated I just need a little oomph than ooh la la when it comes to my stories, please. Another superlative Tor novella This is actually the second in the so called Tinfoil Dossier something of an in joke that , preceded by Black Helicopters, with The Tindalos Asset due in October I actually read Black Helicopters first, which I enjoyed immensely.It is certainly testament to the compactness of Cairlin s world building that these can be taken as discrete books, though in essence they are clearly elements of a larger whole Hopefully in this regard Kiernan continues the series, or splurges on a great big novel, like Martha Wells has done following the success of Murderbot.As I have noted before, Lovecraft is a very difficult writer to emulate The end result is so often an empty parody that rings hollow Paradoxically, this is the main red flag when a writer treats Lovecraft either too reverentially or too slavishly.The secret is to develop a Lovecraftian aesthetic, which comes from taking some of the Master s stock in trade symbolism and themes, and imbuing these with the writer s own sensibility Sounds easier said than done, of course.But Kiernan strikes just the right balance There is a lot going on in this slim book the Signalman, an agent for a black budget American service a cult ranch house at the Salton Sea that houses horrors from another world a lost film about an alien princess a timeless and frightening agent from another service with her own motivations the New Horizons probe skating past the orbit of Pluto and encountering something alien These singular events and people all feed into the start or end of something immense and devastating for the human species tor.com.All these elements add up to a whole that is infinitely such a grand Lovecraftian word larger than the sum of its parts Something inexplicable either seems to lurk in the shadows of the text, or bleeds through the pages.It makes for an uncomfortable reading experience, but a truly indelible one And it is also blackly funny and occasionally downright scurrilous I can t wait for the next instalment of noir Lovercraft that Kiernan so expertly serves up. Beautifully creepy In this novella, Kiernan takes Lovecraftian horror elements, and transposes them into an X Files type setting A government agent known as The Signalman is set to meet another operative, Immacolata, regarding the actions of a California doomsday cult For some reason, he finds his fellow operative even frightening than the cult even though brutal, horrific deaths have occurred.Meanwhile, a young woman explains how the Children of the Next Level gave her life the hope and meaning she d always lacked, with its leader s promises of transcendence and transformation Well, transformation, of a kind, there certainly will be The writing is non linear and obscure and I wanted from the ending but I still loved it Definitely recommended for fans of VanDerMeer s Southern Reach trilogy, as well as anyone who s interested by cult psychology and the weirder elements of the X Files.Many thanks to Tor and NetGalley for the opportunity to read As always, my opinion is unrelated to the source of the book. Not actually about the Dreamlands, although there is plenty of other Lovecrafty stuff in use A four star for quality, although not for quantity I feel like there was a lot of material here that could have had done with it, especially in terms of the two agents and their agencies Hopefully Kiernan will do with this world.The idea of the view spoiler alien fungal invasion growing human bodies hide spoiler On June 2015 at the Moonlight Ranch near Salton Sea, a cult leader Drew Standish is preparing his followers, Children Of The Next Level for the peak event of his cause A few days later a goverment special agent called The Signalman because of his watch is meeting a woman in a remote town of Arizona, after a raid at the site of the cult mentioned, to exchange information and trying not to freak about what he has seen and read during the raid And NASA s interplanetary probe, New Horizons , is about to have a moment of no contact, for surprising reasons sometime after this meeting Something has view spoiler noticed there is life on Earth hide spoiler So this is yet another riff on Lovecraft, but I have to say that this has got to be the best one I ve read to date Certainly the closest to the source material in tone and it shows all the technique of the master horror writer that Caitlin is.The story hops around in time telling the story of an apocalyptic cult in California and an investigator known only as the Signalman as he investigates and tries to stop it This features elements from all over the Lovecraftian mythos An agent of Y The word Yith never gets said , and even ties in the New Horizons probe s approach to Pluto.I ve seen a lot of stuff that tries to treat Lovecraft sympathetically Hammers on Bone, Winter Tide , or tries for setting that assumes a Lovecratian background but tells it s own style of story The Atrocity Archives, Bitter Seeds , or goes into dialogue with the explicit racism and sexism of the author Lovecraft Country, The Ballad of Black Tom This one takes a much simpler tack of just taking Lovecraft s mythos and themes and bringing all the skill and power of a modern literary master and writing the hell out of it.In a lot of ways this is far terrifying than anything Lovecraft wrote or was even capable of writing, but in much the same way he would ve done it.Absolutely chilling and one of the best horror books I ve ever read. Deliberately set in the American southwest in the summer of 2015 when the New Horizons space probe was swiftly approaching the orbit of Pluto , the narrative hops from one time period and location to another, following three characters on very different and yet directly related journeys Kiernan tells their stories with equal amounts of lucidity and pathos, yet each with a distinctive voice and style.Fans of classic weird fiction author H P Lovecraft will be pleased to know that this novella is something of a meditation upon his classic 1931 short story The Whisperer In Darkness, in which a man pieces together evidence of a terrifying alien conspiracy at work in rural Vermont, and which also has a lot to do with the then newly discovered Pluto.In something of a nod to espionage fiction, an aging government operative referred to only as the Signalman meets with a strange and mysterious woman, Immacolata Sexton Their discussion is candid and abstract it s a bit like listening in on strangers only very gradually does the nature of their conversation get revealed yet even there, it illustrates only a few fractured pieces of a much larger and darker picture The Signalman surrenders a halfhearted smile and opens the envelope, spreading the contents out on the table between them Ten glossy black and white photographs, a tarot card, a flash drive, and a very old gold coin At first glance, the photos could be shots from any murder scene, snapped by any forensic shutterbug But only at first glance A couple of weeks before, a young woman named Chloe describes her time spent with Drew Standish, a sort of cult leader who is collecting lost and easily manipulated members to become the Children of the Next Level Chloe s narrative is often hazy and digressive, but it paints a frightful picture nonetheless I m barefoot up here as the day I was born, high on our hot tin roof, high on cultured spores and the words of Drew, but like Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace of wicked King Nebuchadnezzar, like Indian fakirs gifted by Allah, like an Apollo heat shield, I firewalk without burns I bathe in the all forgiving, all anointing, purifying eye of Old Man Ra, and I wait for the others to join me on the roof I m positively zealous, says Madeline, in my devotions and my sacrifices, the holy mortification of sloughing flesh, and she tells me the others could learn from my example Sweaty rivulets scald my eyes, and I blink away the little pain I keep my eyes on the Chocolate Mountains They ll come from there, says Drew They will come from sunrise And then there is Immacolata Sexton herself, whom may exist or follow a perception somewhere outside of time and space, hopping from one time period and location to another, from decades of curious discovery nearly a century ago and into frightful decades yet to come What she observes, discovers, catalogues, and cultivates in these shifts are perhaps the most disturbing hints of all in this tight, twisted novella.There are certain scenes in Agents of Dreamland, which are reminiscent of other works by Kiernan specifically, her novella Black Helicopters 2013, Subterranean Press and story Black Ships Seen South of Heaven printed in Black Wings of Cthulhu IV , edited by S T Joshi, Titan Books, 2016 Like those other works, these scenes hint at the carnivorous cosmic doom that is slowly encroaching upon our world, and make for some of the darkest and most disturbing imagery this side of a post apocalyptic tale.It s a bit hard to comprehend the amount of story that is told in a little over 120 pages this owes largely to the novella s jigsaw puzzle like narrative structure Agents of Dreamland is an exquisitely haunting read, full of mesmerizing prose, unsettling images, and profoundly disturbing implications And after reading this novella, one may never view that dwarf planet at the edge of our solar system the same way again. Fantastic I can t remember seeing the spy horror story played this straight, this well, with such vivid writing and sharp, baked sense of place Kiernan nails the creeping doom, the long hopeless struggle, and pushes past into deeper human and inhuman territory of memory, jealousy, and time. Agents of Dreamland follows a slow, creepy apocalypse No, really This is Lovecraftian horror, and for that I have to compliment it is very, very disturbing The entire book is a journey in how far your mind can take you to dark places, in how to terrify human beings without ever really being specific about what we are meant to be terrified by It is a book that forces you to stare into the void and then beg someone to look back.It s excellently written, mysterious enough to be compelling, and a bit existential So, I ve been super complementary of this, but I also three starred And that s because I am not a horror person at all I was expecting a lot of cool worldbuilding and cool character development and then horror as one aspect of a whole But the sheer level of horror was kind of all I got out of this book Especially as it s a novella, causing existential fear is the end all be all of this book.But I will also say that as a whole, this narrative is so confusing that I ended it feeling as if I had gotten nothing out of the book as a whole Which is not the feeling you want when you finish a book So overall good, but not good for me.Blog Goodreads Twitter Youtube ^Download E-pub ↞ Agents of Dreamland ↞ A government special agent known only as the Signalman gets off a train on a stunningly hot morning in Winslow, Arizona Later that day he meets a woman in a diner to exchange information about an event that happened a week earlier for which neither has an explanation, but which haunts the SignalmanIn a ranch house near the shore of the Salton Sea a cult leader gathers up the weak and susceptible the Children of the Next Level and offers them something to believe in and a chance for transcendence The future is coming and they will help to usher it inA day after the events at the ranch house which disturbed the Signalman so deeply that he and his government sought out help from other sources, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory abruptly loses contact with NASA s interplanetary probe New Horizons Something out beyond the orbit of Pluto has made contactAnd a woman floating outside of time looks to the future and the past for answers to what can save humanity