When Lilyn G. asked me if I was interested in participating in Sci-Fi & Scary's Dare to Discuss March Read, my response was something along the lines of: "Hell, yeah!." And that's how I ended up reading Caitlín R. Kieran's Agents of Dreamland
The premise? Well, here's the back cover blurb:
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.
After finishing this book, I sat down for a while and tried to decide if I like it or not. I'm still not sure, thus the 3 star rating. Part of the problem is that this isn't really my style of book--nothing wrong with it, just the aliens cum noir detective story cum time travel-esque theme was a little too much for my tastes. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of creativity here and if you're looking for something different, this book has it in spades. In fact, if you're a fan of works like RUM DIARY, FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS, stories that run in that vein, you'll probably find a lot to like here. Not that this book is in any way, shape or form like those two pieces (well, except a large section of it DOES involve a desert setting, so I guess there's a small tie to FEAR AND LOATHING) but it left me with the same feeling: Like I should have taken some hard-core drugs before reading it because then the whole 'people turning into mushrooms' and 'dead cthulu in Vermont' things might have felt a little less weird and a little more 'ah, that makes sense.'
Overall, I'd say reading this books was an 'experience'--a decidely ODD experience, but not unenjoyable. As I described it to a few writing buddies: 'This books is a trippy-ass piece of strangeyosity.' Read it with that in mind, and you won't be disappointed.
Oh! And if you want to participate in the Dare to Discuss March Read, it's not too late! Just grab yourself a copy Agents of Dreamland and read it, then head on over to the Sci-Fi & Scary Forums on March 22nd, 2017. We'll be kicking things off at 7 PM EST!