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The Sea Came in at Midnight

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  723 Ratings  ·  83 Reviews
Steve Erickson is a visionary novelist whose time has come. Considered by many the secret heir to Pynchon and DeLillo, he has steadily acquired a passionate following of readers over the course of five previous novels. Now, with The Sea Came at Midnight, Erickson delivers a masterwork of intense feeling, scope and power--an intimate epic of late twentieth-century civilizat ...more
Paperback, 259 pages
Published May 1st 2000 by Harper Perennial (first published 1999)
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Community Reviews

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Aug 11, 2009 karen rated it it was amazing
this review is for all of the people "following my reviews". i dont know who you are. you dont message me or comment on my reviews, or vote for them. i dont know what you are getting out of this relationship. the only thing i can think of is that you are waiting for me to make the first move and review something just for you. so here it is: read this book. this is one of the best books i have ever read, and it is out of print, (although its sequel is still in print - go figure) so you are going ...more
May 09, 2012 Mariel rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: I time travelled to 1987 and it wasn't as good as The Butterfly Effect
Recommended to Mariel by: goodreaders who are better reviewers than me as it is celestially possible to be

To my regret, although not great regret because I despised this book within the first ten pages, Steve Erickson is:

Seventeen year old girl Kristin is described as precocious...

The author just tells you that they are special.

Oh yeah, so point-misser, as she tells it is missing the point of the thing and this is distinguished from not being able to see that there's a picture at all. (Kristin is not a point-misser because she misses the view. I st
Jan 28, 2011 Bill rated it it was amazing
i started reading this book for two reasons. first, i'd already read another of erickson's novels (tours of the black clock), and thought it was great, and second, i know it's one of karen's favorite books.

i have always read a lot. in fact my mother tells people that when i was born, i came out reading a book. i have no idea how many books i've read, but it's definitely over 5000. i read mostly fiction, mostly novels. i like the vast majority of the books that i read, because i know what kinds o
Mike Puma
Mar 16, 2011 Mike Puma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, lit-fic
First: the disclaimer—I’m not sure I gave this book the chance it deserved. I read it slowly—picking it up and putting it down, too few pages at a reading. Consequently, whatever pacing the author intended was lost on me; my fault not his.

This is one that likely deserves to be read as a mystery of sorts, as it reveals itself slowly, over pages, so-and-so is actually so-and-so. And like all mysteries, it’s probably best accomplished in as few readings as possible. All the characters fit togethe

Paul Bryant
Nov 23, 2012 Paul Bryant rated it did not like it
Oops, looks like I'm the only goodreader who hated this pretentious male fantasy. How many more edgy, slightly SM or even completely SM relationships will we be presented with by male authors, in each of which the S part of the relationship is the man and the M part is the woman, and the man remains clothed and the woman is mostly unclothed, and the man is older and the woman considerably younger? By contrast with all this Blue Velvet, Last Tango in Paris, Secretary-style art, porn is blazingly ...more
Feb 19, 2010 Szplug rated it really liked it
On the final day of 999, an entire village of Armorican peasants awaited the imminent millennial ocean flood in dozens of wooden boats perched atop poles - an entire village but one. One thousand years later, another congerie of dazed believers march, lemming-like, to embrace the dawn of the third millenium by way of free-fall off of a thousand foot cliff on the California coast. In both cases, the chiliastic fever burned itself out unrealized: it will take a different sort - those with no faith ...more
Like House of Leaves, but NOT good. Well, it's pretty accomplished, I guess. But I had serious problems with it. Where to begin?

When you have several different narrators, they're usually different characters with distinct voices. In this, Erickson has three female narrators (Kristin, Angie, and Louise) who are all pretty similar: they're hardened, secretive, empowered loners who can take care of themselves except when there's literally any guy around. When there's a guy around, they all have a w
Sep 06, 2010 Eh?Eh! rated it it was amazing
Literature already makes me put on my dunce cap and massage my eyebrows in preparation for knitted confusion, but this one more so than others. I'm not sure what happened in the book. Several stories intricately pulled together, sometimes talking at you and something observing next to you, a lost woman, a lost man, another lost woman, several lost people, why don't they just talk it out oh yeah then it wouldn't be Literature, huh?, something about missing the present because of focus on the end ...more
Jess ❈Harbinger of Blood-Soaked Rainbows❈
Jan 19, 2016 Jess ❈Harbinger of Blood-Soaked Rainbows❈ marked it as to-read
Recommended to Jess ❈Harbinger of Blood-Soaked Rainbows❈ by: karen
OMG, a bright end to a crappy week is coming here to discover that the amazing and multi-talented karen has found a copy of this book for me! Double and triple yay!

Here is to amazing people who find hard-to-find books!
Adam Floridia
I expected the book to be about “In the final seconds of the old millennium, 1,999 women and children march off the edge of a cliff in Northern California, urged on by a cult of silent men in white robes. Kristin was meant to be the two-thousandth to fall. But when at the last moment she flees, she exchanges one dark destiny for a future that will unravel the present.” I mean, since I copied and pasted that from the “blurb,” it’s a reasonable assumption, right? Let me spoil the first 25 pages fo ...more
Let's say I'm faithlessness made flesh, the modern age's leap of faith stopped dead in its tracks, fucking around with apocalypse and chaos only because in some broken part of me, among any wreckage of honor or altruism or commitment of compassion, or the bits and pieces of moral vanity, I really believed the abyss was always just the playground of my imagination, and I was its bully.

The errant effects and disputed origins of the drugs would have been more central; however such causal chains wer
Dec 02, 2012 Melissa rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2010
A bunch of drivel with S&M fantasies enacted on women thrown in for no apparent reason- aside from Erickson probably wanking to them at night and feeling it is absolutely imperative to share his fucked up imaginings with the world.
Sep 02, 2016 Oriana rated it liked it
Recommended to Oriana by: Bill
Steve Erickson is not in my inner circle. I mean, I have a strong warmth for him, but he's not an author whom I slaver for, whose works I read again and again. He's more someone I read and very much enjoy (with reservations: more on that later) and kind of forget about until someone or something jolts me into recall. Zeroville is the one I loved the most, but again, with reservations — although, as often happens, my memory of how much I loved it (TONS) differs by a good degree from what I myself ...more
Christina Wilder
Dec 23, 2015 Christina Wilder rated it did not like it
An excellent beginning: the young protagonist starts talking to a recently deceased man, telling him about her past. She'd escaped from a doomsday cult, and ended up homeless and starving. A man takes her in, but he basically uses her as a sex toy while he creates a calendar counting down the end of the world.

Two damaged people often don't amount to happily ever after, but it just seemed a lot like randomness thrown onto the page, with rape thrown in. It just didn't work for me. Maybe I missed s
Oct 30, 2010 Colleen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
Masterpiece. A spell of regret and loss permeate the lives of six or more characters who seem to have no relationship to each other. The axis of the story is the new millenium, which one character places in Paris of 1968. That's when the chaos began for him personally. Erickson shows a slide into alienation that starts closer to midcentury and permeates the life of everyone by the year 2000. Deep beneath the question of 'What's missing?' are the answers some of these people find in their odd que ...more
Stuti (Turmeric isn't your friend. It will fly your ship
Jun 26, 2014 Stuti (Turmeric isn't your friend. It will fly your ship rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Stuti by: karen
Shelves: magical-realism
this is the kind of book i'm going to come back to years and years later, when i have thrice the experience i hold in my memories right now. even now, having scratched only the surface of it, this book is just so fucking... ugh i don't know, it just is. you'll know when you read it, okay? in that sense, it's like silently and very fast. so this is basically what i have to say of this book.

also, don't read this in one go, is my advice.
May 16, 2016 Victoria rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own-and-read, loved, 1990s
I wasn't sure what to expect when I ventured into this web that Erickson created… but Wow! I am pleasantly surprised! I thoroughly enjoyed this and desire more from this author!
I was brought here after reading a review that stated if I enjoyed Kathe Koja's writing, that I would probably enjoy Erickson, they were absolutely right! But mind you: they are both unique to their own style and really shouldn't be compared. Honestly, I normally wouldn’t have reached for a novel of this genre, had it no
This is one of those rare books that is short in pages but unending in its impact. It's a book that seems easy, until you realize it only seems that way because its more difficult ideas are so inaccessible to you that all your mind can do is try to avoid them, and then of course Erickson will not let you avoid them forever; a book that seems predictable, until you realize that you don't understand chaos, and then of course that you never can or will; a book that seems to be saying one thing
Scott Kennedy
Mar 19, 2015 Scott Kennedy rated it it was ok
The first Erickson I've read that I didn't really care for, although it's now probably been 20 years since I read Days Between Stations, Rubicon Beach, and Tours of the Black Clock.

Pluses: An (expected) dreamlike narrative, that structurally does some lovely limited POV hopping throughout the middle, as the story segues from one character to another, following them and their stories. The narrative flows right along in this way.

Minuses: So much of the sex stuff feels very problematic now, rapish
Amy (Other Amy)


In her off hours she writes her memoirs in a notebook, saying to herself, Well now Kristin, this is a little presumptuous, don't you think? To be writing your memoirs at age seventeen? But she concludes that, after all, the months since she left home have been interesting, and if she
Dec 28, 2014 Erin rated it really liked it
Recommended to Erin by: karen
Though I thoroughly enjoyed this book I will be the first to say that it's not for everyone...however for fans of China Mieville or David Mitchell you are likely going to find something to enjoy here. A mix of magical realism and an incredibly gritty version of present day Erickson covers the lives (and often the deaths) of a number of constantly intertwining characters (in fact sometimes I felt I needed a flow chart to keep up with the relationships) - Kristen, the Occupant, Louise, Angie, Carl ...more
Aug 07, 2014 Anna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recently I gave myself a treat by buying a stack of cheap second hand books off eBay. They had all been on my to read list for a long time, most of them so long that I’d forgotten precisely why I intended to read them in the first place. The summaries all seemed intriguing, however, so I decided to trust my past self. I must say, the first three have been rather a let down, this one especially so. From the blurb, I anticipated that this novel would be a literary examination of the apocalyptic at ...more
Jul 13, 2009 Ross rated it really liked it
This was the craziest thing I've read in some time. But I mean that in a good way. This a very surreal look at our lives, how our memories are important to us, and tries to answer questions about what's missing in our existence.
The story begins with Kristen, who is working at a "memory hotel" in Tokyo, when her client dies. Waiting for the proper people to pick up the body, she begins to tell him her story, starting a year before, on December 31st, 1999. From her encounters with cults, crazy les
Feb 24, 2015 Jason rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, it was good. It has some fantastically descriptive lovely passages, original and peculiar narratives and sub-plots, an over-abundances of coincidences and challenges of morality to make this a book worth reading. But alas, to me, the book falls short of being great. I found myself suspending my disbelief so often that, in the end -- even if it was going for a magical realism of sorts (a genre I'm not too keen on) -- it didn't redeem itself fully by making the coincidences and interconnecti ...more
Aug 28, 2016 Yasmeen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"This is the passage of chaos I've spent my whole life walking."

Look. I don't love this as much as I adore These Dreams of You. I don't think it's as well executed as Zeroville. Until I was about halfway through I had just about settled on no stars at all, my solution for I-have-no-idea-what-I'm-feeling, cause let me tell you, I was confused. I was unsettled, and I couldn't tell if it was good unsettled, unnecessary unsettled, or only vaguely unsettled.

But today I sat myself down and told mysel
Jan 28, 2009 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: slipstream
Somewhat more personal than his other novels and a step above my last one ( Tours of the Black Clock ). Unlike his other books, the fantastic elements are a little more discreet. I found the notion of the Apocalyptic Calendar fascinating.
Jan 26, 2014 Gaby rated it did not like it
This was my first Steve Erickson novel, and I must say that it will be my last. This novel is rife with babble about memories, chaos, faith, and dreams, but it only tangentially addresses these themes with murky symbolism. I must admit that I am generally wary of these types of books that profess to make some sort of grand statement about a theme, but The Sea Came in at Midnight surpassed grand statements and went straight into pretentious dreck territory. I am interested in exploring our modern ...more
Neil Baker
Sep 23, 2016 Neil Baker rated it did not like it
The way that the characters lives are intertwined is masterfully done. The rest is quite horrible. Right when I started to get into the main character (which took a little while) the book changed the point of view to someone else that was a horrible human being. Thankfully that didn't last too long and it again switched to someone else that had interesting details about then but was an incredibly boring character... It does this a few times and there wasn't a single character in the book that I ...more
Oct 05, 2009 Zach rated it did not like it
As much as I loved the idea of the personal millennium and the apocalyptic calendar, I could not handle the constant (and seemingly uncritical) sexual violence perpetrated against women-who, of course, come pretty close to enjoying it. ugh.
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Memory 1 7 Aug 24, 2009 01:44PM  
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Stuttered as a child, a motif which often appears in his writing.

Began writing stories at age seven. Began publishing as a teen. Wrote first novel at seventeen.

Studied film and journalism at UCLA.

Received Guggenheim Fellowship in 2007.

More about Steve Erickson...

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“If I had it to do all over again . . . I wouldn't change a thing.'. . . the final expression of narcissism, the last gesture of self-congratulation.” 10 likes
“Since I've never had a dream,' she begins, 'one night I woke and went looking for one.” 1 likes
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