Some Thoughts About Caitlin R. Kiernan’s Agents of Dreamland

After the desert of ebony sand, there’s a great city of spiralling towers and crystal domes. Beyond the city is a vast methane ocean as still as glass. Furious storms travel the ocean. Benzene falls like snow. Ancient beings hunched over machines on this planet detect NASA’s New Horizons interplanetary probe as it passes Pluto.

A mosaic is constructed. Pieces that hurt when you think about them too hard. It’s no coincidence that I bled from the back of my neck as I read, the blood congealing into thick, black powdery scabs . It just wouldn’t stop and my hands became smeared. Blood has a sharp, metal smell. Like wet rust. At night I listened over to the audiobook as I fell asleep and woke up headachy and disoriented. Old. Chapters got mixed-up and I kept re-reading parts, simultaneously confused and enlightened.

The Signalman of Albany and his watch, seemingly confined by time. Immacolata Sexton of Y(ith? Of the Yellow Brotherhood?), a woman – a consciousness? – timeless, experiencing events out of order. The agents of Albany know she isn’t human.

Thirteen members of the Children of the Next Level out by the Salton Sea, blooming in their ranch house, apostles of the coming apocalypse. Drew Standish, cult leader, speaks a form of chaos-magick. Chloe Stringfellow, the fourteenth disciple, seemingly plays Judas as she succumbs to pathogenesis.

What’s in the briefcase? I kept asking. Maybe I misunderstood. Was it just a file?

Strange creatures wash up in rivers in 1927. Mi-go? Drew Standish and Madeleine Nightlinger have their brains transported (in canisters). Their bodies left to rot in a hotel room. This is the beginning, Sexton tells the Signalman. She’s experienced the horror of the future in 2043.

O. unilateralis, the means of the apocalypse. The buzzing language. The terrible static from the tv.

Extraterrestrial mildew from Planet X,” as one agent explains.