Annihilation, the first novel in the Southern Reach trilogy, has won the Shirley Jackson Award.
This comes on the heels of Annihilation winning the Nebula Award as well as being nominated for the Locus Award and longlisted for the 25,000-pound Warwick Prize, and the entire trilogy being nominated for the World Fantasy Award and the Campbell Award, among other honors. The novels are also now being published in 25 countries, along, of course, with the plans in place for Alex Garland to adapt the series for Paramount Pictures / Scott Rudin and Eli Bush. I feel extremely blessed and fortunate.
This time, Hugo Award-winner John Chu was kind enough to accept on my behalf, as we’d just gotten back from a festival in Sardinia. And this time I wanted to recognize some influencers on the Area X novels that I haven’t really talked about before. I think it’s clear these novels are personal to me, but they’re personal to me on so many levels, from work experience and my relationship with the wilderness here in Florida–and also, in terms of family. I’m a huge fan of Jackson’s work, so this award means a lot. Thanks, too, to all of my editors and publishers and readers worldwide.
Thank you for this honor—my thanks to the judges and my heartfelt appreciation to the other nominees for their great work. Thanks to my wonderful wife Ann—the characters and situations were immeasurably enriched by her contributions, as are most things. I must also thank my agent Sally Harding and my editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Sean McDonald. Both of you have been godsends and I am humbly grateful.
Sometimes you can forget the people in your past and present who have contributed to a worldview or a way of thinking about story. For the Southern Reach, then, I’d like to thank a few relatives and friends in science or science-related fields who are present in the series indirectly. And whose research in various ways supports a view of the mundane world as complex and deep and also, in its way, strange and uncanny.
–My father, Robert K. VanderMeer, an entomologist and research chemist whose groundbreaking work has led to him, among other things, using poison frog venom to control fire ants. His commitment to process, his work ethic, and his inventiveness have inspired me—as have my glimpses of the scientific community through him from an early age.
–My mother, Penelope Miller, whose biological illustration of sea turtles and other ocean life for a number of publications and naturalists made me want to become a marine biologist before I became a writer and whose painter’s eye she, thankfully, passed down to me.
–My stepmother Laurence Morel, whose breakthroughs on lupus have brought us closer to a cure and whose scientific work shares the same rigor and thoughtfulness as that of my father.
–My sister Elizabeth VanderMeer, whose environmental work (policy and ethics) and study of environmental planning in cities, both in Brazil and in England—combined with her other emphasis on primate studies—has given me valuable insight into both the human and animal worlds.
–My close friend of almost 20 years, Eric Schaller, a molecular biologist whose testing and questioning extend beyond the lab he runs at Dartmouth and into interrogations of scientists and the lives they live in fiction like my novel Authority.
–And, finally, my stepdaughter Erin Kennedy, also in environmental studies, whose spirit is especially present in Acceptance and without which the novel would be much diminished. Her big heart and creative stick-to-itiveness I will always love.
If the Southern Reach is any way weird science fiction, or telling a true story, it is in part because of them. This shouldn’t be a surprise. Scientists can also be storytellers—they have big, bold imaginations and they enrich the world by better communicating the true oddness of its reality to us. Thank you again for this award.