Southern Reach Summer Tour: The Carolinas, San Diego Comic-Con, Mystery Galaxy

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“I’m loving the Southern Reach trilogy…Creepy and fascinating.” – Stephen King

“”Truly visionary, epic…VanderMeer has done something extraordinary in the Southern Reach. Wild. Bizarre. Romantic. Evocative of Gibson, Lovecraft, Kafka. Thank you for creating something original in a world that’s referencing itself to death. It is refreshing.” – Vernon Reid, Living Color

As featured in Entertainment Weekly: The Southern Reach trilogy, chronicling efforts by the Southern Reach secret agency to solve the mystery behind Area X, a pristine wilderness cut off from the world by an invisible border.

The Summer Southern Reach tour–otherwise known as the Authority Tour–starts out in the Carolinas before I take one huge leap over to California and San Diego. I’m teaching at the Shared Worlds teen SF/F writing camp in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and then joining my wife Ann VanderMeer in teaching at the Clarion Writers Workshop in San Diego.

For the Carolinas events I’ll be giving away one copy of Acceptance, the third volume in the Southern Reach trilogy (not out until September). I’ll also be giving teasing sneak peeks at Acceptance, in addition to reading from Authority and sharing some of the more absurd real-life influences on the novel. Oh–and I’ll be giving away Acceptance by throwing a bunny into the audience. I might even have some free FSG shot glasses for one lucky reader.

I should also note that the Comic-Con panel will include cool visuals from the participants and should just be a heck of a lot of fun. Hope to see you there.

Click on the links for event listings with more details. In a week or so, I’ll post about my UK tour schedule, which includes World Con, the Edinburgh International Lit Fest, Glasgow, Eurocon, Bristol, and Brighton.

July 9, Wed, 7pm—Hub City Bookstore (Spartanburg, SC)

July 10, Thurs, 7:30pm—Quail Ridge Books (Raleigh/Durham, NC)

July 12, Sat, 7pm—Malaprops (Asheville, NC)

July 16, Wed, 7pm—Hub City Bookstore (introducing Carrie Vaughn; Shared Worlds event)

July 24, Thurs, 10am–Comic-Con San Diego Wonderbook Creativity panel (San Diego, Room: 25ABC; with Lev Grossman, Charles Yu, Anina Bennett, Paul Guinan, Ann VanderMeer moderator)

—>Also July 24, 11:30 signing at the Comic-Con Abrams booth (Wonderbook) and 2pm signing at the Tor booth with Ann VanderMeer (Southern Reach trilogy and The Time Traveler’s Almanac)

July 30, Wed, 7pm–Mysterious Galaxy (Clarion Writers Workshop event, San Diego, with Ann VanderMeer)


Wonderbook Wins the Locus Award


Yesterday, Wonderbook won the Locus Award for best nonfiction. Sally Harding, my agent, was kind enough to accept on my behalf and read my short speech, which I’ve reproduced below. I’d also like to acknowledge Caitlin Kenney who originally acquired the book for Abrams Image, Maya Bradford and Melissa Esner in PR/Marketing at Abrams, Luis Rodrigues who designed the website–which has another book’s worth of content connected to the print version–and Greg Bossert, who created the Wonderbook video, among other contributions. A full list of the contributors can be found here. The full list of Locus Award winners has been posted here. Thanks again to everyone. – Jeff


Many thanks to the readers for this award and to Locus Magazine. Much love and respect to my fellow nominees, who have done important work. Thanks to everyone who contributed to Wonderbook: more 150 writers and artists, including 15 of the creators on the Locus Award ballot. Thanks to Jeremy Zerfoss for art and John Coulthart for design. Thanks to Sally Harding and the Cooke Agency for keeping me grounded and making me see what’s important and what’s not. Special thanks to Matthew Cheney for serving as the book’s creative writing consultant and to my dear wife Ann who was instrumental in developing ideas along the way. Grateful thanks to my editor David Cashion and everyone at Abrams Image. I’ve never before had a publisher give me a budget and then say, “We trust you. Do whatever you want. Just bring it back camera ready.”


Writing is supposed to give expression to our better selves, to show how we try to rise above even if we don’t always succeed. If I had one hope for Wonderbook it was that it would come close to embodying a “sense of wonder” that had nothing to do with escapism or nostalgia but instead everything to do with how much talent, diversity, and complexity exists in the ecosystem that is science fiction, fantasy, and horror…so long as we see that ecosystem entire and don’t render parts of it invisible. That the book might tell some beginning writer somewhere, who might feel misunderstood—and there are so many ways to be misunderstood—that writing is full of joy and curiosity and passion and community. That this joy occurs in part because using your imagination is a regenerative act, almost a spiritual act, but also because the art of storytelling comes to us not just from one voice but from many voices. That, because there are many voices, there are many paths. So many paths that some days we get lost and tangled up in them, and that’s okay too. Because getting lost is part of the point.


Kindness, trust, loyalty, good humor, immense amounts of creativity and wisdom—I received and experienced all of this in the form of the support of so many amazing people while working on this project. I’ll never forget that, and so again: thank you very much for this award.

Entertainment Weekly’s Spotlight on the Southern Reach Book Covers

The print issue of Entertainment Weekly that reaches subscribers today and newsstands next week includes a feature on the Southern Reach book covers–showcasing the amazing designs from various foreign editions. The image below is from the online version, available to subscribers only, I believe.

I’ve also uploaded the covers to a flickr album. Which are your favorites? The set of three to start are roughs of the German editions.


Living on an Alien Planet: NPR’s Cosmos & Culture Runs Conversation with Karen Joy Fowler

Fowler-VanderMeer’s Cosmos & Culture blog has run a long-form conversation between me and PEN/Faulkner Award-winner Karen Joy Fowler focusing on animals and the environment. Here’s an excerpt:

Fowler: On the limits of empathy — I just read the new book by Frans de Waal called The Bonobo and the Atheist. A lot of it was about our natural proclivity towards empathy and how many animals we find this in, and cited many studies and observations. But in the end the book concluded that there seems actually to be what they call an empathy deficit for people or creatures that you don’t see as part of your own tribe. Not only do you not empathize with them, you actively dis-empathize.

VanderMeer: Dis-empathize, right. If sharks were as smart as chimpanzees — using our conventional definitions of worth — it wouldn’t make a difference, in a sense. So how far do you think “personhood” should go in terms of our thinking of animals? Is there a cut-off point? Or is it simply that we need to rearrange our entire thinking about this?

If you missed it, this weekend NPR’s To the Best of Our Knowledge ran an interview with me as part of a discussion of weird fiction.

Also, Laboratory Lit is a thing, and Annihilation is on their most recent list of novels. (Probably best they don’t read Authority…)

Finally, Rick Kleffel has a list of novels “better than blockbusters” that includes the Southern Reach trilogy.

Yale Writers’ Conference and New Canaan Library Event June 19: Jeff VanderMeer, Terence Hawkins, and Louis Bayard

(Believe me, after the marathon of writing the three Southern Reach novels, I look a lot more Area X’d than this now…)

“I’m loving the Southern Reach trilogy…Creepy and fascinating.” – Stephen King

This week Ann and I will be teaching at the Yale Writers’ Conference. There are semi-public readings at the campus B&N that are mostly for the students and faculty. But for anyone in the area who’s interested, I’ll be doing this event:

Join us on Thursday, June 19 at 7:00 p.m. for a program with a trio of authors fresh from the Yale Writers’ Conference: Terence Hawkins, conference director and author of American Neolithic; and instructors Louis Bayard, author Roosevelt’s Beast; and Jeff VanderMeer, author of Wonderbook, The Illustrated Guide To Creating Imaginative Fiction. In addition to speaking about Wonderbook, Jeff will read from and discuss his latest book, Annihilation.

I’ll probably give some teasers about Acceptance, too.

I always love doing events with writers I’m just encountering, and in this case two with such intriguing novels out. Here’s some more information on both…

Terence Hawkins’ American Neolithic is America is a Police State Lite. Drones patrol the skies. The Patriot Amendments have gutted civil liberties. The Homeland Police and Patriot Tribunal have exclusive jurisdiction over all legal actions implicating national security. And then Neanderthals enter the story. Political satire, courtroom thriller, and speculative fiction, American Neolithic is also a story of loyalty, betrayal, and redemption.

Louis Bayard’s Roosevelt’s Dream. A reimagining of Teddy and Kermit Roosevelt’s ill-fated 1914 Amazon expedition—a psychological twist on the smart historical thriller that first put Louis Bayard on the map. A story of the impossible things that become possible when when the mind plays tricks on itself and when old family secrets refuse to stay buried.

Book covers2

Southern Reach Trilogy Featured on NPR’s To The Best of Our Knowledge with Gaiman, Le Guin, and More

I had a great time last month recording this interview for To The Best of Our Knowledge with host and executive producer Steve Paulson. He asked great questions and it was just a very energizing and fun experience.

They’ve also posted the Extended Interview on the site. The short version will be broadcast this weekend as part of an hour on weird fiction that also includes interviews with Neil Gaiman and Ursula K. Le Guin, among others.

I was also really happy that they had me record another three-minute bit on a favorite book, and in this case I picked Alfred Kubin’s amazing The Other Side. I don’t know when that will run.

Nyquist covers

Southern Reach Spanish Book Covers: An Interview with Pablo Delcán

(Finished covers)

One of the great pleasures of seeing the Southern Reach trilogy in print has been the ingenuity and sophistication of the foreign language editions. Among the absolute best of the many versions are Destino’s covers for the Spanish editions. Destino commissioned artist and designer Pablo Delcan to create these covers, which capture the surreal vibe of the novels as well as the theme of transformation running through the narrative.

I caught up with Delcan via email this month to ask him about how he created these striking images, and to share with readers some early versions. You can experience more of his amazing work at his website. Spanish readers can also check out the Destino Southern Reach webpage and also check out updates on twitter @_SouthernReach.

[Read more…]

News: Editing The Big Book of Science Fiction for Vintage

Ann VanderMeer and I will be editing The Big Book of Science Fiction for Vintage. Here’s the official announcement:

Hugo Award winner Ann VanderMeer’s and NYT bestselling Jeff VanderMeer’s THE BIG BOOK OF SCIENCE FICTION, an oversized, 800-page, time capsule of the last hundred years of the sci fi canon to Tim O’Connell at Vintage, by Sally Harding at The Cooke Agency (NA).

Most of our work will be research–a lot of reading. But we will also have an open reading period for reprints. You’ll be able to submit links or electronic manuscripts of your own work or recommendations of rare or often overlooked stories you think deserve our attention. Clearly if we’re covering a century, we won’t be just focusing on the contemporary scene.

As ever, we’re committed to including work from a diverse array of sources. And, as with prior large-scale anthology projects like The Weird and The Time Traveler’s Almanac, we will go fairly far afield. Expect a book that gives you the classics but also material that will surprise you.

It may be a few months before we set up the submission process, but we’ll make sure it’s widely publicized.

The Southern Reach Trilogy: Stephen King and Vernon Reid Loving It; N.K. Jemisin Reviews It in the New York Times Book Review

Twitter  StephenKing I'm loving THE SOUTHERN REACH ..
(To see the comments, click here.)

It’s been a busy week and I haven’t had time to post anything until now, but imagine my surprise Sunday afternoon when several friends told me Stephen King had tweeted that he was loving the Southern Reach trilogy, calling it “Creepy and fascinating.”

This was just a couple of days after I had my mind blown when Vernon Reid, founder of the band Living Color, tweeted that he’d finished Annihilation and Authority and loved them, writing, “”Truly visionary, epic, the best SF since Perdido Street Station…VanderMeer has done something extraordinary in the Southern Reach. Wild. Bizarre. Romantic. Evocative of Gibson, Lovecraft, Kafka. Thank you for creating something original in a world that’s referencing itself to death. It is refreshing.”

Honestly, consider my month and year made. And this was on top of N.K. Jemisin giving a great review to Authority in the New York Times Book Review’s summer reading issue.

In other news, I’ve just finished up some last tiny tweaks to the third novel, Acceptance, and also will post a tour schedule for the rest of the year. It includes awesome events with the likes of Charles Yu, Lev Grossman, and Lauren Beukes, among others.