Caitlin R. Kiernan’s Agents of Dreamland has everything you X-Files buffs could want: FBI agents, clandestine government groups, conspiracy theories up the wazoo, a mystery shrouded in an enigma sworn to secrecy, and the possibility of one really terrifying alien species.
In a ranch house close to the Salton Sea on the San Andreas Fault, east of San Diego, the brainwashed Children of the Next Level await their carefully scheduled transcendence under the commands of the cult leader, only there’s something much scarier going on here than drinking some strange Kool-Aid. A day later beyond the very distant orbit of Pluto, the New Horizons probe suddenly loses contact with the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.
Meanwhile, in a town in Arizona made famous by an Eagles song, a covert government agent known as the Signalman meets with a very strange woman. The Signalman has been in this line of business for a long time; he’s seen a lot, but the events unraveling in his life and his world right now are a whole new variety of terror. He was at the ranch house and saw the end of it all there, while wearing a high-level contamination hazmat suit. The woman has information for him, she has seen so much and seems to know the future, next to her the Signalman feels like a small child, but he has to do his job. And do what he can to keep the wheel turning.
For a short novella, Agents of Dreamland has so much packed into it, it feels like a full novel, and by the end the reader may be wishing for another two hundred pages. Told through back and forth chapters, it’s a story that forces the reader to put the pieces together and it’s not until the very end that the full puzzle shows itself.
Originally written on April 28, 2017 ©Alex C. Telander.
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