Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Black Helicopters, by Caitlín R. Kiernan

[Tor Novella]
★★☆☆☆ Not Recommended

(SF Thriller; Agents of Dreamland) A government agent hunts a pair of twins and their mysterious minder who seem to have some connection to the Lovecraftian monsters besieging an island in New England. (37,226 words; Time: 2h:04m)

Although this is in the Agents of Dreamland universe, there's no strong connection with the earlier novella. See related articles on

"Black Helicopters," by (edited by Jonathan Strahan), published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: The biggest attraction of this story is the countless clever references to Lovecraft, Lewis Carrol, and other stories. It rewards a knowledge of French, German, Spanish, Japanese, and even Latin. (The one chapter that’s mostly in French appears again at the end of the novella but all in English. So if you abandoned the book at that point, feel free to skip that chapter and keep reading.)

People familiar with Lovecraft will recognize that the story chronicles how the Mi-Go (the creatures with stubby wings) came from space to try to take over the Earth, using Shoggoths (the giant amoeba-like creatures crawling out of the water) as ground troops.

Ptolema, the government agent, is the immortal “Wandering Jew” of legend, except that she subverts the legend in several ways, not least of which by not being a man.

Con: It’s really long, really meandering, and really dull—even if you get most of the references and read all the languages. A few cute references are fun, but not 37,000 words worth of them.

It’s impossible to take any of the characters seriously enough to care about them, so there’s no tension and no emotional content. At the end, you ask yourself, “what was the point of it all?”

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Caitlín R. Kiernan Info: Interviews, Websites, ISFDB, FreeSFOnline

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