Agents of Dreamland by Caitlin R. Kiernan
NASA have lost contact with their New Horizons satelite somewhere near Pluto. A government agent is tasked with investigating a deeply disturbing massacre at the home of a doomsday cult. A mysterious woman unconstrained by the constraints of time has visited the past, and sees the future these events are leading to.
Don’t go into Agents of Dreamland expecting a straight story with the loose ties neatly tied up. Classed as a novella, it’s short. I would even go so far as to describe it as a long, short story. As with a lot of short stories, it runs as a mood piece that dumps you right in the middle of these strange happenings and gradually lets you piece together whilst simultanisouly leaving you with little idea of what’s truly going on.
Agents of Dreamland is hypnotic and disturbing, filled with metaphor and similies. Mentions of Area 51, Charles Manson, and old black and white monster movies are melded with desert noir and Lovecraftian horror.
I enjoyed Agents of Dreamland for its atmosphere and the sense of dread it instilled. Potentially it could be a much longer, in-depth story, but then I think it would lose much of its allure.