Monday, November 6, 2017

A masterful Lovecraftian novella

Agents of Dreamland

 Caitlin R. Kiernan


Pub. Date: February 23, 2017

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

"You are who you are, until you aren’t anymore. This is the First Law."

Let's just start with a definite but hyperbolic statement. Agents of Dreamland may be the best Lovecraftian tale written since Lovecraft. And that is a big statement.

Agents of Dreamland begin with a bang and ends with a bigger bang. A man called The Signalman meets a woman in Winslow, Arizona ("standin' on a corner in...", That Winslow.) There is a dangerous tension in the air and I expected one or the other would end up dead in the beginning pages. But it isn't that simple a story. There was an incident a few days earlier happening at the edge of the Salton Sea in California that has seriously unnerved The Signalman. In separate vignettes, we get the parts of the puzzle from a cult in California, to a woman that transcends time, to an odd phenomena in space near Neptune astronomers are following . It doesn't come together as much as floods us with imagery. It doesn't resolve as much as leave us with a sense of foreboding. While the themes and events are clearly of Cthulhu Mythos quality, I also kept going back to the feelings I had while watching Twin Peaks: The Return . There are bits of similarity here at least in atmosphere. Come to think of it, Twin Peaks may be more Lovecraftian than people realize. But I digress...

To repeat my first hyperbolic declaration, Agents of Dreamland may be the best Lovecraftian tale after Lovecraft. I have always been impressed with Caitlin R. Kiernan but in this novella she has outdone herself. It is sad that it is so brief since there is enough in the book for a series of books. But that density of plot is what makes it a masterpiece for its genre. Must reading for all horror readers.

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