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Tinfoil Dossier #1

Agents of Dreamland

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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 Signalman.

In 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 in.

A 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 contact.

And a woman floating outside of time looks to the future and the past for answers to what can save humanity.

128 pages, ebook

First published February 28, 2017

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About the author

Caitlín R. Kiernan

406 books1,550 followers
Caitlín Rebekah Kiernan is an Irish-born American published paleontologist and author of science fiction and dark fantasy works, including ten novels, series of comic books, and more than two hundred and fifty published short stories, novellas, and vignettes.

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5 stars
767 (19%)
4 stars
1,587 (39%)
3 stars
1,234 (30%)
2 stars
328 (8%)
1 star
89 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 703 reviews
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
2,928 reviews10.6k followers
February 27, 2017
A government agent called The Signalman has a meeting with a mysterious woman in Winslow, Arizona about a bizarre cult murder near the Salton Sea days earlier. But what do those events have to do with the New Horizons space probe and a black and white movie penned by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Despite my resolve to take on as few ARCs as possible this year, I couldn't resist this one when it popped up on Netgalley. It sounded wonderfully bizarre and it was.

Much like half of the books I've read so far in 2017, Agents of Dreamland is a modern Lovecraft tale of sorts, a tale of madness, alien fungus, shady government dealings, and an apocalypse on the horizon. There are a ton of ideas and hints in this novella, enough to fuel my imagination long after I finished it.

The Signalman is just a few years from retirement and fighting for every inch in that direction. Immacolata is a mysterious woman who knows many things she shouldn't. When she gives the Signalman her briefcase, his life gets several shades worse. The Fungi from Yuggoth are one of my favorite Lovecraftian baddies and they probably don't get enough press. Agents of Dreamland pushes them to their full potential, making for a chilling read.

Since it's a novella, I don't want to say much more. Suffice to say, Agents of Dreamland is a gripping read that blends Lovecraftian lore with conspiracy theories into a slick package brimming with ideas. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,084 reviews17.5k followers
July 26, 2018
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.

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Profile Image for Althea Ann.
2,232 reviews1,016 followers
June 28, 2017
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 more 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 more 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.
Profile Image for Mir.
4,862 reviews5,006 followers
June 26, 2017
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 more done with it, especially in terms of the two agents and their agencies. Hopefully Kiernan will do more with this world.

The idea of the was pretty gross, but the book as a whole didn't feel as creepy or frightening as some of her earlier novels. Not sure if that's intentional on the author's part or just me being more jaded by the horribleness of reality overshadowing that of fiction.
Profile Image for Eloy Cryptkeeper.
296 reviews193 followers
December 18, 2020
"Cuando el planeta se convierta en un vergel y el cielo esté tiznado de
nubes nacidas de los caparazones que los creyentes habrán dejado atrás, llorarán
ante la futilidad de todos sus amargos esfuerzos. Incluso ahora, mis chiquillos,
ellos continúan conspirando y pugnando, engañados, trazando planes para esa
batalla final. Todo en vano. Atravesarán la noche en furgonetas negras y
cadillacs azabache, cuatro caballos de un apocalipsis insensato. Se plantarán en
nuestra puerta. Pero llegarán demasiado tarde".

Esta obra es una carta de amor a Lovecraft, que alberga un maravilloso puzzle de historias que se entrecruzan, donde tal vez los protagonistas no son el eje principal, pero sirven de enlace entre temas como: sectas, sociedades secretas, teorías conspirativas, apocalipsis y viajes en el tiempo; todo tratado y enlazado de una forma muy inteligente por la autora en apenas 120 paginas. Entre sus capas tiene ciencia ficción y misterio pero también historia y realidad.

Si bien a mi me encantó, confieso que no es fácil recomendarla. Es para los que estén dispuestos a emprender un viaje sin rumbo determinado con el optimismo y el convencimiento de llegar a tierra firme. "En algún momento tendrás que comprender que una respuesta y
una solución no son la misma cosa, y a veces una historia no es más que una excusa(Nic Pizzolatto)"
Profile Image for Lindsay.
1,263 reviews222 followers
April 16, 2017
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 more 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.
Profile Image for 7jane.
678 reviews256 followers
March 20, 2017
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 ...

Look over your shoulder. Become the wife of Lot.
A pillar of salt. Enlightened.

The woman is Immacolata Sexton, able to travel in past and future, as well as present. This way we get glimpses of the This is a -verse world, and many familiar beings will come up. You do get a feeling that she might survive at least for a while through what's to come. The Signalman might drink himself out of seeing things future before the moment comes.

The Signalman... Too often it occurs to him that he's lived just long enough to have completely outlived the world that made sense to him, the world where he fit. He's as good as a goddamn dinosaur.

I get a feeling from this novella that it is a slight mirror of the author's present moods about the world... it's a story with open end, though the glimpses show what is likely to happen. It is a feel of your face when it's sweaty, slightly dirty from time in the sun. Dry wind. Heat. And on the other end, dark cloudy sky, wetness, grey, black and safety in darkness for . This is a moodpiece, not necessarily appealing to all, but a nice starter on this author's work, for me at least, even when lacking the positives. I don't mind that.

* this is a true project: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Hor...
**real, as seen on
Profile Image for Timothy Urgest.
507 reviews264 followers
June 11, 2022
In every cubic centimeter of the universe there are three hundred photons from the Big Bang. And SETI? That was just some hippie scientist boondoggle, and that’s what’s really going on here, see. You got these gatekeepers not wanting us to gaze into the oldest fossil in all Creation, the very face of God.

I forgot how much I enjoy Kiernan.

Our charismatic (aren’t they always?) mini-cult leader carries a fungal-adjacent message from the stars.

Our belligerently jaded investigator is there to witness and decipher the massacre in all its eldritch glory.

Lovecraft would be proud.
Profile Image for Gerhard.
1,053 reviews529 followers
April 15, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Mangrii.
869 reviews244 followers
June 7, 2018
En un rancho del suroeste americano cerca del mar de Salton, el líder de un peculiar culto ofrece a sus seguidores un futuro que se aproxima y en el que ellos van a participar activamente. Un día después de los extraños acontecimientos en el rancho, los agentes del gobierno se encuentran con una escena indescriptiblemente perturbadora. Solo unos días después, el agente especial del gobierno apodado Guardagujas se reúne en Arizona con una mujer que transita fuera del tiempo, para intercambiar información sobre el caso.

A través de 117 páginas, tres líneas temporales entrecruzadas y tres personajes muy diferentes entre sí, Kiernan construye una historia oscura llena de horrores lovecraftianos y espeluznantes imágenes. Una narración corta escrita con una prosa muy elaborada y un estilo particularmente fluido que encadena una escena tras otra, saltando de un lugar a otro tanto en el espacio como en el tiempo con particular sencillez. Capa a capa vamos desentrañando el significado oculto de los sucesos y navegando por el caos cósmico que Kiernan nos plantea.

Con ese claro homenaje a Lovecraft pero conviertiéndolo en algo propio, con ese aire taciturno a True Detective y con ese insondable contexto de investigación paranormal de Expediente X, la autora irlandesa ha creado un universo muy interesante del que espero realmente leer más. Ojala Runas se anime a traernos su continuación Black Helicopters.

Reseña en el blog: http://boywithletters.blogspot.com.es...
Profile Image for Still.
574 reviews84 followers
December 30, 2020
I'm new to Caitlín R. Kiernan.
Came into this a Kiernan virgin and I've been impaled upon a few utterly weird notions wielded by a master wordsmith.

Someone will try to tell you that this is a Horror novel.
Don't listen to them.
There are Lovecraft references but it's more along the lines of a Suspense-Thriller skating close to the thin ice edge of Science Fiction.

Features two of the most unforgettable characters I've encountered in recent years.
"The Signalman" and sometime suspect, sometime deceitful ally and Denier of Grandfather Time his own ornery self "Immacolata Sexton".

Way out upon the fringes of the Salton Sea exists a Jim Jones-like cult of truly weird ass believers led by an enlightened madman. The actions of this cult leader & his followers have piqued the interest of at least a couple of shadowy intelligence agencies.

I've said too much already and even that's not going to entice you to buy this very inexpensive little novella even though I sincerely wish you would.
It would only be the right thing to do in these uncertain times wherein we dwell.

Exciting read and at times I got a pronounced William S. Burroughs inspired rush or (even) potentially a Billy Burroughs Jr. rush.
Profile Image for Rodrigo.
1,056 reviews409 followers
August 6, 2022
Me ha gustado, si es cierto que hay alguna parte un poco mas onírica que me ha gustado menos pero es muy cortito y se lee rápido, con ganas de mas.
Sinopsis: En una calurosa mañana un agente especial del gobierno llega a Winslow, Arizona, y se reúne con una mujer para intercambiar información sobre un suceso inexplicable que ha ocurrido unos días antes.

En un rancho cerca del mar de Salton el líder de un culto ofrece a sus seguidores algo en lo que creer: el futuro se aproxima y ellos van a participar en su llegada.

Un día después de los acontecimientos en el rancho que inquietaron tanto al agente del gobierno como para buscar ayuda de "otras" fuentes, el Laboratorio de Física Aplicada de la Universidad Johns Hopkins pierde contacto súbitamente con una sonda interplanetaria de la NASA, que ha encontrado algo extraño más allá de la órbita de Plutón.

Y una mujer que flota fuera del tiempo busca en el futuro y en el pasado respuestas que puedan salvar a la humanidad.
Profile Image for Barry.
Author 11 books87 followers
February 28, 2017
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.
Profile Image for The Shayne-Train.
363 reviews90 followers
March 6, 2017
This was a very trippy, non-time-consecutive-type story of seedy government agents, doomsday cults, beings that exist without being fixed to one point in time, and invading fungus monsters from beyond Pluto.....I think.

I say "I think," because you're never really 100% sure what in the EFF is going on. But the story was well-told, and I enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Max.
Author 130 books2,168 followers
March 11, 2017
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.
Profile Image for Antonio TL.
211 reviews25 followers
October 20, 2022
Esta es una historia inquietante de infestación de hongos, cultos apocalípticos e invasión alienígena, con una sensación claramente noir y una interesante elección de personajes. Está Signalman, el agente de Dreamland (una agencia gubernamental que maneja cosas raras); Immacolata Sexton, representante de una organización conocida solo como 'Y', que parece retroceder y avanzar en el tiempo; y Chloe, la última recluta de 'Children of the Next Level' de Drew Standish, siendo testigo de los eventos en un rancho en Salton Sea.
El único problema para mí, inicialmente, fue la larga descripción de ese cliché encasillado cansado/insomne ​​de un agente federal adicto al alcohol/cigarrillos que odia a todo el mundo. Sí, está obsesionado por una buena razón en el libro, y tan pronto como pasas esa parte, la historia despega.En general es una lectura interesante.
Profile Image for Mon.
249 reviews218 followers
April 11, 2023
No tenía idea de que esta historia se parecería a The last of us, pero qué agradable sorpresa. Tocará leer el resto en inglés. Les recuerdo que para mí tres estrellas no es una mala valoración, es más un "sí" y un montón de "peros".

"Los presagios más reveladores nunca parecen presagios."
Profile Image for Lori.
1,454 reviews55.8k followers
November 27, 2016
Caitlin Kiernan has done some interesting things within this novella.

We meet the Signalman, a secret agent of sorts who has just returned from a mission to sniff out an end-of-days cult, where he and his partner discover that their particular choice of "koolaid", a very unique form of fungi, may actually be heralding in the end of days.

He and a strange woman, who appears to not be tied to time the same way we are, debrief each other on his odd findings.

Meanwhile, we lose contact with one of our probes when it makes contact with something as it passes outside the orbit of Pluto.

The story bounces back and forth in time just enough to keep us off balance, ensuring it has our undivided attention, constantly tracking where and when we are. In anyone else's hands, this novella would have disintegrated into a melting pot of nonsense.

Too short to wrap up all of the events she has placed in motion, Agents of Dreamland isn't concerned with giving us all the answers. It's more determined to ask the questions...

Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,430 reviews993 followers
February 20, 2017
Wow this is short but really powerful stuff here, my first introduction to this author and its making me want to read everything.

So, this is dark fantasy/scifi and the general plot could described as Alien Invasion with loopy time travel shenanigans and a basis in authentic scientific fact. If you can cope with the creepy try googling Zombie Fungus.

The characters are extraordinarily well drawn for a novella, Caitlin R Kiernan has the magic touch when it comes to getting across personality and depth through very few words which is important within the short story format – in fact I don’t think I’ve seen better. This is totally absorbing, scary as anything and genuinely thought provoking. I loved that it is open to interpretation – perhaps I should caution that if you like definitive answers this won’t be for you.

It really was horribly good. So beautifully written, so intensely descriptive and telling a really rocking tale of secret agents trying to save the world. Its like an episode of the Twilight Zone, one of the more excellent ones, but in novella form.

Highly Recommended.
Profile Image for Fiona.
1,220 reviews225 followers
December 30, 2020
We dine on rattlesnakes and hot green tea, and Drew Standish, he tells us the last days are here. We camp upon the threshold, just switch on the television, that ginormous 1975 Zenith in its composite-board, wood-grain cabinet, and astroglide the picture tubes. The thing gets no stations out here, no rabbit ears needed. We don't need networks and programming; we need only noise.

I can't give an objective review to this - I love the world of black-budgets and underground government complexes filled with the weird and wonderful world of the hidden, inexplicable things they've found. All I can do is tell you how much I enjoyed it - how it packs so much into such a short length, and how the world Caitlin R. Kiernan writes into life with her gorgeous slipstream writing is vivid, wondrous, and existentially just horrifying. But with humans like the Signalman on our side, maybe humanity has a chance? Luckily there's more books - maybe we'll have the chance to find out.
Profile Image for Malice.
262 reviews31 followers
August 16, 2022
Estuve pensando un rato en qué tanto me había gustado este libro. La historia propuesta por la autora resulta interesante, pero ni el desarrollo ni la forma me terminaron de gustar. Siento que todo se queda a medias, a pesar de que sea una novela corta, debería cerrar mejor, no lo sé, por ahora se queda en dos estrellas.
Profile Image for Ellis.
1,210 reviews136 followers
April 16, 2021
Original 2017 review: This needed to be so much longer. I could have read about everything here for many more pages.

2021 re-reading review: Re-read this little gem so I could understand Black Helicopters, which is unfortunately not working for me at all and probably will not get finished, but it was nice to live in this world again briefly, especially considering I've apparently forgotten how to read.
Profile Image for Waffles.
141 reviews19 followers
February 17, 2019
Wow! This packed a solid punch. Highly recommended for anyone who loves good Lovecraftian fiction (and especially to those of you who like BAD/AWFUL Lovecraftian pastiches). This is what good contemporary Lovecraftian fiction should fell like - dark, ominous, horrific, not too long - almost as if Thomas Pynchon took a stab at Lovecraft.

BUY this book!
Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,009 followers
April 11, 2017
Received to review via Netgalley; publication date 28th February 2017

Once again, not knowing my Lovecraft tripped me up. Yep, this is yet another Lovecraft-based story, although in this case it’s a rather less well-known one: the Fungi from Yuggoth. Not one I’d have known anything about even if I’d known in advance, but perhaps I might have been better prepared for the sheer bleakness and darkness of this story had I known it was based on Lovecraft’s mythos in any way.

It’s an intriguing little novella; self-contained, though it hints at a world before and after it through one character who is, to some extent, ‘unstuck in time’. The flesh-crawling horror of the fungi, a kind of invasion we’re helpless to fight, is done really well. There’s one phrase which just made me shudder, because of all the different implications stacked together: “the fruiting corpse”. Gah. Gaaah.

It’s very effective writing, and because I don’t know to what extent it takes any of the detail from Lovecraft, I can say that it’s definitely something that can stand on its own. It doesn’t rely on me realising exactly what’s going on through familiarity with Lovecraft; the creeping unease works as well or better if you’re ignorant of where things are going.

Originally reviewed here.
Profile Image for Origen.
162 reviews74 followers
December 5, 2018
Es una locura. Maravillosa.

Gracias a Marcheto por aconsejarme que leyera "El Que Susurra En La Oscuridad" de Lovecraft antes de empezar la novela. Hubiera sido más locura.
Profile Image for Ctgt.
1,439 reviews82 followers
April 10, 2017
Big fan of Kiernan, I've really enjoyed everything I've read by her but I was just a bit let down. Probably a case of high expectations because it is a good story. But what I love about her writing is an ability to use language in a lyrical, hallucinatory/dream/fugue way and except for the few passages from the cultists POV she didn't really venture into that side of her writing. I also would have liked some more exploring of the backstory and maybe that will come if she writes more stories in this world(here's hopin'). Anyway, still a strong story that anyone who enjoys cosmic horror will find entertaining.

Profile Image for Elena Linville.
Author 1 book58 followers
April 21, 2017
For a short 84 pages novella, Agents of Dreamland sure felt like one long read. Long and pointless.

You are probably not used to such harsh judgements in my reviews, since I usually try to find at least something positive in the books I read. So let me explain why I'm so negative this time.

The story is about the agent of some secret government organization dealing with the unexplained and the paranormal who discovers what at first glance seems like cult mass suicide, but turns out to be the beginning of the end of humanity. Some kind of alien fungus that would destroy humanity and pave the way for a different life form. Sounds like it could be an interesting story, right? I certainly thought so when I read the blurb and picked up the book.

Well, don't get your hopes up. The story goes nowhere after that. I'm not joking. They discover the bodies of the cultist and one survivor. They take the survivor to a secured facility where she dies in an explosion of alien spores. It's implied that this is the curtain call for humanity. The End.

Even that little bit of story could have been interesting if the characters were engaging enough to empathize with or the stakes high enough to create tension. Unfortunately, we get neither. In fact, I think that by giving one of her characters the ability to cast her mind both into the past and the future, the author effectively shot herself in the foot and killed her story.

So this character can get "unstuck" from the present and let her mind travel to all the moments she lived in the past or will live in the future. She goes into the future and sees that in the year 2043, human civilization is pretty much extinct, the remaining humans infected and changed beyond recognition by the fungus, and aliens are controlling the skies. She sees all that and chooses not to say a word about it to anybody. But the author includes a detailed description of her little trip into the future before the middle of the book…

That right there killed the story for me. If the end of the world is coming anyway, nothing the Signalman or his colleagues from Albany do has any meaning. There are no stakes anymore. So what's the point of the story? Any (minimal) investment I still had in it plunged to zero on my "How much do I care about what happens next" meter. And when the novella ended with a non-ending that didn’t resolve anything, I wasn't really surprised or particularly disappointed.

I came for an interesting horror story he blurb had promised. I got lots of allegories and similes and countless references to obscure black and white movies and the Beatles sprinkled with a bit of mythology. From what I understand, the author tried to write a Lovecraftian story. In my opinion, that attempt failed.

PS. I received an advanced copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Michael Hicks.
Author 35 books434 followers
March 9, 2017
Agents of Dreamland, a Lovecraft-fueled novella from Caitlin R. Kiernan, is a trippy, non-linear story that has a bit of an X-Files vibe about it. From a mythos standpoint, Kiernan explores the apocalyptic fate of mankind following first contact with the Fungi from Yuggoth and the investigation of a secret government agency in the years prior.

This is a short, but dense, narrative, and Kiernan hops around from one time period to the next. There are a lot of awesome ideas crammed into this novella, from the mystery of those briefly lost hours when the New Horizon's satellite went dark just before reaching Pluto, to the investigation of a small group of murdered cultists and the strange, fungal infection that has seized their bodies. For the most part, though, the focus is on present-day (well, July 2015 to be exact), but Kiernan plays fast and loose with the timeline, presenting information in non-linear dollops.

At its core, Agents of Dreamland is more concerned with ideas and possibilities than it is in presenting a straightforward narrative with resolution. This is more like a slice of life vignette set against the backdrop of Lovecraft's cosmic horror, and the story itself demands plenty of thought well after the last page turns shut. Kiernan gives us a set of intriguing characters placed in a dynamic world, with several book's worth of possibilities encircling each of them. And I hope to sweet, dear Cthulhu that she'll write those books!

[Note: I received an advanced copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley.]
Profile Image for Ignacio.
1,067 reviews201 followers
June 26, 2019
He disfrutado con este relato largo, el piloto de un Planetary Lovecraft Edition dominado por un par de agentes Ellisianos, dos cínicos de la muerte detrás de una secta que quiere recuperar la Tierra para unas criaturas inhumanas, primas hermanas de las creadas por el carca de Providence y su maestro fungoso, William Hope Hodgson. Con puntos comunes con El archivo de atrocidades, aunque sin lo que me alejó de ella (los ladrillos de información; los guiños geek) y con una narración fragmentada que, a brochazos, establece el contexto espacio temporal de un universo a desarrollar en el futuro. Más allá de eso tampoco se cuenta demasiado. Mucha sugerencia, muchos enigmas abiertos y una atmósfera de desconcierto y ambigüedad, ideales para enmarcar esta época incierta y postmoderna que vivimos.

Sin embargo (sí, este es un comentario con sin embargo), el formato elegido por Runas me disuade de recomendarla. Agentes de Dreamland se podía comprar originalmente en digital a 3 pavos y aquí está 9 euros... sabiendo que es una oferta porque puede volver a los 14 originales. Un relato que se lee en hora y media en la línea de “Casas bajo el mar”, también de Kiernan, y que Fata Libelli arrejuntó con otros dos relatos en Ominosus por 5 euros. Supongo que por eso cerró. El hecho es que si al menos contara algo cerrado, le vería el sentido. Pero como apenas es una puerta de entrada, ¿no habría sido mejor reunirlo con lo que venga después en un volumen más extenso y razonable? A 14 pavos en digital o papel, por mucha tapa dura que tenga, lo veo excesivo.
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