cover image Missing Signal

Missing Signal

Seb Doubinsky. Meercat, $12.95 trade paper (206p) ISBN 978-1-946154-11-8

The tense, sparse prose of this novella—which explicitly names its inspirations in the aesthetics of Michelangelo Antonioni’s “beautiful emptiness,” William S. Burroughs’s theories, and the porn and B-movies of the 1960s and ’70s, as well as the tropes of alien encounters in early SF—matches its strong themes of loneliness, paranoia, and the search for identity in a world of deception. Terrence Kovacs, directed by the New Petersburg Counter-Intel Department, uses a large collection of fabricated websites and false identities to promote UFO conspiracy theories, despite his own genuine UFO experience. When a woman named Vita contacts Terrence and claims to be an alien from the Lyra system who’s hoping to save Earth from alien colonizers called the Subliminal Empire, Terrence is unsure what to believe. Vita’s solution will be familiar to readers of Doubinsky’s City-States Cycle novels. On its own, this story feels flat and incomplete, and readers new to Doubinsky might not find enough here to inspire them to explore his work further, but it does successfully fill in some gaps in the grander narrative. Agent: Matt Bialer, Greenburger Assoc. (Aug.)