Agents of Dreamland by Caitlin R. Kiernan 📚

I feel as though I had already read this slim novella, and I can’t be certain that I haven’t, even though it is only a few years old; the Lovecraft Mythos basis, the dream-like interweaving of points of view (some more dream-like than others), the minimal and largely unresolved plot elements, all combine to give a familiar feel even if this is the first time I’m seeing this particular incarnation. I’ve read enough of the original Mythos, as well as more recent reconsiderations (such as the previously mentioned Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff, and also Ruthanna Emrys’ Winter Tide), that it isn’t surprising to find so many familiar elements.

But that uncertainty fits in all too well with the story, which imagines shadowy government agencies contending with each other as well as the otherworldly threats to humanity, a battle of secrets in which uncertainty and doubt are among the primary weapons. In a way the Mythos has become the ur-conspiracy-theory of SF, a touchstone which only needs to be referenced in the most oblique way to bring the entire weight of cosmic otherness into a work. This can be a force for good or ill, much like those shadowy agencies, and in this case the author has exploited that weight to make her brief tale darker and heavier than one would expect for so short a book.

And there is more to come; I am now waiting for the sequal to arrive from the library. Recommended.

Book cover for Agents of Dreamland by Caitlin R. Kiernan, a small house at night with lighted windows and stars above.