The Southern Reach Trilogy Comes to Tampa, Orlando, and Miami

Nyquist covers

This weekend I’m traveling around Florida, preaching The Southern Reach Trilogy in the place it all began. If you want a primer on the NYT-bestselling series, check out both this conversation I had with top designer Peter Mendelsund on Boing Boing and this great page for the hardcover omnibus version over at FSG. The film rights to the trilogy have been acquired by Scott Rudin Productions and Paramount Pictures, with Alex Garland of Shine and Dredd fame set to direct. Along the way the trilogy made multiple best-of lists and been blurbed by Stephen King, Warren Ellis, and Kelly Link, among others.

First, I’m in Tampa at Inkwood Books, 5pm, tomorrow (Friday. Nov. 14), where I’ll talk a bit about the series, do a reading, take questions, and sign books. Creative Loafing Tampa has recommended the event to its readers and provided a nice review of the final book in the trilogy.

Then, Saturday at 7pm (Nov. 15), you can join me and special guest and rising star Usman Tanveer Malik at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center. Malik will read from a great short story and I’ll talk a bit about the Southern Reach, read, and then participate in a Q&A hosted by Functionally Literate. Functionally Literate is a great, relatively new organization in Orlando devoted to hosting lively literary events. They’re supported this time around by Bookit, which will provide copies for sale of both the trade paperback Southern Reach novels and the hardcover omnibus.

The Orlando Weekly has an interview with me about the Southern Reach and I appeared on the Functionally Literate radio show, which you can listen to here. Malik also appeared on the show, for this episode.

Finally, I’m also appearing at the Miami International Book Fair, on Saturday, November 22, at 3pm. Check your program for details, and I’ll post more about it next week.

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Hyperstition and the New Weird I: Entities & Worlds

I am very excited to be a part of a seminar with The New Centre for Research & Practice, entitled “Hyperstition & The New Weird I: Entities and Worlds/Genres and Climates”. On December 1st, 2014, I will be their guest to discuss The New Weird Anthology, as well as my novel Annihilation. The entire 4-part seminar begins this Monday (November 17th, 2014) and is hosted exclusively online, which means that you all can register and participate, no application necessary.

To register for the entire seminar visit The New Centre: http://thenewcentre.org/seminars/hyperstition-the-new-weird-i-entities-and-worldsgenres-and-climates/

For more information about the seminar, including a syllabus and reading list, please join the Facebook Group here: https://www.facebook.com/events/386891681465252/

Some of the texts that they will be discussing:

Jeff VanderMeer: Annihilation
Michael Cisco: Member
China Miéville: The City and the City
Kathe Koja: The Cipher

Southern Reach Trilogy

The World Fantasy Convention: Southern Reach Hardcover & Limited Edition Chapbook

Southern Reach trilogy with chapbookIf you’re going to the World Fantasy Convention outside of Washington DC, you can take advantage of a rather amazing offer: the forthcoming hardcover Southern Reach omnibus, collecting all three novels and a limited edition full-color chapbook of Southern Reach art. For only $35. Just go to the Kathmandu Books booth in the book room–very close to the center of the book room, near the Tachyon Books booth.

OR you can buy one during the World Fantasy mass autograph session at 8pm Friday night OR at the Southern Reach/Steampunk User’s Manual book launch in room 1851 (Hyatt Regency) from 1-3pm Saturday. (This event will also feature food, cocktails, giveaways, and a tasting of the Southern Reach Muscadine Brown Ale created by Tallahassee’s own Fermentation Lounge.)

The 20-page chapbook, limited to 250 signed copies, includes full-color art and images from Jeremy Zerfoss, Kyle Cassidy, Eric Nyquist, Pablo Delcan, Matthew Revert, Andrew Mamo, and Martin Jarrie (his illo for the NYT review of Acceptance). Some of the amazing cover art from foreign editions is featured, along Nyquist’s interior art for the FSG trade paperbacks, two maps, Séance & Science Brigade tarot cards, and more. I will sign 250 copies and Jeremy Zerfoss, who designed the chapbook, will also sign it. (An additional 250 unsigned copies I’ll be sending out to some of my favorite bookstores as a thank you.)

If you’re not going to World Fantasy, you can query [email protected] to see if any are left over. I’m going to be able to personalize copies the week after World Fantasy for those orders, so it is still possible to get in on this deal. Mark Wingenfeld of Kathmandu will take overseas orders. But you must email him soon because we’re almost out of any extras.

Also note that I have a panel on animals in fiction at 10am on Saturday at the convention. I hope to see you there.

The Southern Reach Trilogy hardcover edition has an official pub date of November 18.

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(Layout rough of an interior page of the chapbook)

Southern Reach News: Ex Machina’s Alex Garland Tagged to Direct Annihilation

As reported by Variety, Alex Garland, director of the forthcoming Ex Machina, has been brought on board by Scott Rudin Productions and Paramount Pictures to direct the movie version of my novel Annihilation. He’ll also write the screenplay.

To say this is exciting news is an understatement. Garland’s script for the movie Never Let Me Go is phenomenal–and his work with science fiction in general has been unique, eccentric, and interesting in the best possible ways. Ex Machina looks fascinating, and if anyone can tackle the dual distance/passion of the biologist in Annihilation, it’s him. And I like very much the idea of the person doing the screenplay also directing–especially in this case, where Garland’s a novelist too.

Will the movie version differ from the novel? I’m sure it will. For one thing, Annihilation is a first-person narrative and film is by default more of a third-person medium. There are all kinds of changes in structure and general approach I would’ve made if writing the novel in third person.

Anyway, I’m thrilled that we’re moving closer and closer to a movie version of Annihilation. I’m planning on a Garland movie marathon of re-watches in the near future.

Thanks to all of you readers, too–Annihilation has made it to the long-list of the Good Reads Choice Awards. Go vote for your favorite here. I appreciate the many emails about your affection for the Southern Reach trilogy. (I’ll have news about an FSG hardcover of the trilogy–cover below–later this week, along with updated book tour information.)

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Texas Book Fest’s Lit Crawl Jeopardy Brawl: Be There Saturday Night

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Okay, maybe “brawl” is a strong word to describe “Nerd Jeopardy,” but whatever you want to call it–I prefer “Heroic Heroes Jeopardy”–I’ll be part of it Saturday night at 8:30pm at Wonderland in Austin (1104 East Sixth St). You can even click “going” on the facebook page. The Austin LitCrawl is full of amazing events, in support of the Texas Book Festival. (Here’s info on my festival appearance earlier on Saturday.)

My opponents appear to have unfair advantages, such as possibly knowing much more stuff than I do. But I’ll have at least two sisters-in-law–Jody and Jennifer Bordman–in the audience to heckle me toward an honorable and not-to-distant defeat. I’ve also been told by my agent Sally Harding and my publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux that there will be “some kind of penalty” if I lose. Since they have money riding on the results.

Besides, maybe I do have a shot. I’ve been in the backyard for three straight days now, slapping home-made buzzers glued to tree stumps and shouting answers in the form of questions at the squirrels. Things like:

“What is air?”
“What is ice cream?”
“Who is Solomon Gursky?”
“What is the daily double?”
“What is the hair on the back of your neck?”
“Who is the Vice Admiral of Guam?”

Who are my opponents?

Charles M. Blow has been a columnist at The New York Times since 2008, is a CNN commentator, and has appeared on MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, the BBC, Al Jazeera, and HBO. Blow lives in Brooklyn with his three children.

Kate Payne is an author and freelance writer, and a frequent consultant for design, decor, cooking, and crafting publications and sites. She lives in Austin with her wife and teaches classes on food preservation and other topics both privately and at culinary centers across the country. Her books Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking (HarperCollins, 2011) and Hip Girl’s Guide to the Kitchen (HarperCollins, 2014) are available wherever books are sold. Read more about Kate on her blog (http://hipgirlshome.com/) and website (http://katepayne.net/).

Paul W. Morris from the PEN Center is going to be moderating. So come one, come all. It would probably be more intense if the combatants knew each other or harbored long-standing grudges. But the truth is we don’t, and all you can hope for is a grudge nursed for less than 30 minutes, stemming from some green-room dispute. Which might still be spectacular.

What I can say is: Nerd Jeopardy is likely to be a lot of fun. I hope to see you there.

Jeff VanderMeer Tour Dates: Through The End of 2014

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(Southern Reach art by Tony McMillen)

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

“[A] masterpiece.” – The Guardian

“An instant SF classic.” – The New Statesman

>>Recently read by Catherynne M. Valente, who tweeted about it. Not familiar with the S.R. series? Check out this link.

Since Acceptance, the third book in the Southern Reach trilogy has come out, I’ve done an event with both a live owl and with a plastic owl. I’ve done a gig with Lev Grossman and Lauren Beukes, which was very cool, and met the fine folks at a number of bookstores, including Politics & Prose in DC. The novel even made the New York Times bestseller list. But the fun isn’t over yet. See below for the last tour dates.

Austin, TX

October 25, 1:45pm–Texas Book Festival , “The Stuff of Stars,” reading, Q&A, and signing with Ofir Touché Gafla and moderator Lincoln Michel. At the Central Presbyterian Church.

Science fiction has often been a genre used by writers to celebrate the possibilities of the imagination and to critique the world of the present. From robots to black holes to even Frankenstein, sci-fi authors focus our attention outward to the stars in order to reveal the inward aspects of humanity. Ofir Touché Gafla and Jeff VanderMeer discuss how they use science fiction to take readers through their universes.

October 25, 8:30pm–Texas Book Festival LitCrawl, Jeopardy edition at Wonderland (1104 E 6th St). Battle for Jeopardy supremacy against Charles Blow and Kate Payne, with host Paul Morris.

(I’ll also try to go to all three author reception events. See you there! – JV)

Washington D.C., World Fantasy Convention Events

November 7, 8pm–Autograph Party at World Fantasy

November 8, 10am–WF Convention Panel: The Role of Animals in Fantasy with fellow panelists Goldeen Ogawa (M), Judi Fleming, and Garth Nix.

November 8, 12-4pm–Steampunk User’s Manual/Southern Reach party (more details soon; inquire via [email protected] for a special Southern Reach offer debuting at World Fantasy)

Acceptance--FSG

Florida

November 14, 5pm, Inkwood Books in Tampa, FL, reading, signing.

November 15, 7pm Functionally Literate reading series (with Usman Tanveer Malik) in Orlando at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center. Reading, Q&A, with slideshow and signing.

November 19-21–The Center for Literature, Wonderbook workshop (cosponsored by the Miami International Book Fair) in Miami – must sign up for the workshop

November 22,3pm–Miami Book Fair International – Event along with Daniel Suarez and Geoff Nicholson (reading, discussion, and signing in Room 8525, Building 8, Miami-Dade College)

New York City

November 23, 2pm–Barnes & Noble Tribeca, Steampunk User’s Manual event with special guests TBA

November 23, 6pm–Steampunk User’s Manual party (save the date–details TBA)

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(Southern Reach art by Andrew Mamo)

The Steampunk User’s Manual–It’s Release Week!

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This is the release week for the follow-up to The Steampunk Bible: The Steampunk User’s Manual, written by Desirina Boskovich and me–along with a ton of other contributors of images and text. What’s different this time around? Well, the emphasis is on the act of creation. Through examples, instructions for projects both small and large, and interviews with top creators, you get an inside look at how to get started creating your own Steampunk visions. But if you’re not into creating the book’s also full of amazing finished shots of current Steampunk works–along with their tips and insights into their work habits.

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(An example of a “finding inspiration” section, with quotes from top creators.)

Some of the exclusive highlights only available in the book include:

–A Steam-powered mecha-penguin created by Thomas Willeford (you can get a sense of how to build your own 100-foot-tall one based on the conversations between engineers in the book)
–A two-page spread of original artwork by Ivica Stevanovic, the artist whose Wonderbook art appeared in the Spectrum award anthology
–A two-page spread by Wonderbook genius Jeremy Zerfoss based on Richard Ellis Preston, Jr’s Steampunk novels
–Wonderful new extended “alternative history” Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana entries by Jess Nevins, in unique and beautiful layouts by the amazing John Coulthart.
–Steamarama Retrofuture Home diagrams and descriptions by Bruce and Melanie Rosenbaum
–Tor art director Irene Gallo providing an overview of the creation of classic Tor Steampunk book covers
–Original Steampunk fashion sketch by Molly Crabapple
–Nancy Hightower’s feature on the Swedish puppet theater production of award-winning author Karin Tidbeck’s Steampunk story “Beatrice,” complete with behind-the-scenes photographs.
–A feature on Anna Chen’s Steampunk Opium Wars
–Images from the Irish theatre production of my novella “Dradin, In Love”
–Essays and articles by Diana M. Pho, Katherine Gleason, Matthew Cheney, and more
–Projects by a wide variety of steampunk creators, including fashion, collage, making musical instruments, and much more.

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(John Coulthart layout for Jess Nevins’ encyclo entry.)

If you want to support the book, here are some of the things you can do to help.

–Walk into your local bookstore and buy a copy.

—Buy Acceptance now from your preferred online bookseller, and recommend your preferred sales link to friends on social media. Direct links include Indiebound, Powell’s, Amazon, B&N, and Book Depository–or order direct from the publisher.

—Review the book. Blog, review site, or on social media. Any mention, especially noting whatever you really liked about the book, helps immensely.

—Review it on sales site you bought it from. Tell other readers what you liked about it. A quick and easy way to help get the word out and create interest. Online reviews at B&N, Amazon, and elsewhere do help.

—Request it from your local library.

—Spread the word through twitter and facebook. Tell people about the book through social media, using your favorite link about the book.

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Southern Reach: On the Road with Acceptance–DC, Baltimore, Richmond, Austin To Go

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(This amazing photo by Kyle Cassidy.)

The release of the final book in the Southern Reach trilogy, Acceptance, has been a wild, great ride. In addition to the great reviews from Slate, NPR, Entertainment Weekly, the NYT Book Review, and many more, I’ve been gratified that readers have followed along for this last adventure. Acceptance made the NYT bestseller list at #16 and has popped up on several indie and regional bestseller lists as well. More importantly, readers have been emailing and face-booking and tweeting about how much they’ve enjoyed the entire trilogy. I’m really thrilled about that–thank you.

The book tour has been a blast–with these events still to come, with further details in this post:

–Saturday, Sept. 27, 6pm: Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington DC
–Sunday, Sept. 28, 12pm: Baltimore Book Festival reading
–Tuesday, Sept. 30, 7pm: Fountain Bookstore reading in Richmond Virginia
–Oct. 25-26: Texas Book Festival in Austin, for which I’ll have an event and also participate in a Jeopardy competition during their Litcrawl

[Read more…]

The Keepers of the Light: St. Marks Lighthouse in the NYT & Reader Response

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This past weekend, in addition to a great review of my novel Acceptance and a mention of my next novel in the New York Times Book Review, the New York Times op-ed section ran a piece of mine on lighthouses–including our local lighthouse at the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge. (In other exciting news, Acceptance, which features a lighthouse prominently, appears on the NYT bestseller list next week.)

There was a fair amount of material I couldn’t fit into the article, all of it due to the wonderful writer Kati Schardl, who earlier this year had written up a feature on me and the Southern Reach trilogy for the Tallahassee Democrat. It was because of that feature that I got to go inside of the St. Marks lighthouse in the first place. I’ve reproduced some further words from Schardl below, which gives further context about the lighthouse and the lighthouse restoration fund.

The reaction to the lighthouse piece was very positive, including a thumbs up from the Lighthouse Directory on twitter. I also received a fair number of emails from lighthouse enthusiasts. In addition to Schardl’s comments I’ve reproduced some of those emails, with permission, below. I think you’ll find them of interest. I should note that the opinions expressed are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect my own. – Jeff

Katie Schardl on plans for the St. Marks lighthouse and its Fresnel lens

The Fresnel lens will be professionally preserved in its current condition and put on display in the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center while the building itself is restored. The ultimate goal is to relight the beacon, but the lens will first need to be restored to optical quality, which will be costly–there aren’t a whole lot of artisans out there who have the knowledge and expertise to work on Fresnel lenses.

[As for] restoration bringing in too much tourism. It’s a very delicate balance, isn’t it? The paramount concern is to restore the lighthouse and keeper’s quarters in a way that has the least impact on the surrounding environment, and also work within federal guidelines and requirements, since the refuge is a federal entity. There’s currently a moratorium on expanding structural square footage in federal wildlife refuges, so there is no plan to expand the footprint of the lighthouse/keeper’s house with reconstructed historic out-buildings, etc.

However, there will be site enhancements such as new walkways, refreshing the current historic marker, and an ADA-compliant ramp. There will probably be an extra fee charged to tour the lighthouse, once it’s restored, which will help support expanded staffing and maintenance, etc. The staff at the refuge, and the volunteers as well, are very canny and vigilant stewards and, if it came down to it, I think terroir would trump tourism in the long run.

In the end, yes, we hope more people will want to come learn about the lighthouse and will experience the happy side-effect of falling under the spell of the refuge’s primeval landscapes!

It’s my personal belief, as someone who’s been exploring and loving the refuge for 20-plus years, that the more people make contact with those landscapes—breathe the air, walk the trails, watch the birds and wildlife doing their thing, feel the peace of it all—the more people will want to protect a place where that wild magic seeps into the soul. As a refuge ambassador and volunteer ranger, I’ve seen that magic do its work time after time.

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My Year in Nonfiction: With Karen Joy Fowler, Bronson Pinchot, Thomas Ligotti, Lauren Beukes, and Lev Grossman

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(Are trout too smart to eat? Just one topic of discussion with Karen Joy Fowler for NPR.org’s science blog.)

It’s been a long but amazing year touring behind the Southern Reach trilogy. Last week the final volume, Acceptance, came out. You can find really awesome and humbling coverage at NPR, Entertainment Weekly (multiple times!), Slate.com, The Guardian, and from just-announced Man Book Prize finalist Neel Mukherjee in The New Statesman, and too many other places to list.

Because I haven’t written any fiction this year due to touring behind the novels, I’ve turned to nonfiction. Below you’ll find links and short excerpts to a fairly eclectic mix of pieces.

In addition, here’re some of the more extensive interviews I gave this year, which often felt like I was writing essays or articles (in a good way!): for FSG Originals, Raw Story, Buzzfeed, NPR’s Bookworm, 4th Estate’s podcast, Rick Kleffel/KUSP, Locus, the Coode Street podcast, Wired.com, NPR’s Studio 360, and NPR’s To The Best of Our Knowledge. Just today Electric Literature came out with another one.

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NPR.org’s cosmos and culture blog

Living on an Alien Planet: In Conversation with Karen Joy Fowler

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?

Fowler: I just think that’s such a hard question. At least, I think it’s a hard question. I can tell you where my thinking is today. But what I’m seeing is that the more we look at animal cognition, the smarter other creatures seem to be. I’m at a point now where I eat fish. I’m sure the day is fast coming when I will learn that fish are creative puzzle solvers.

Vulture (NY Mag online)

This Is the Best 5,453-Word Interview With Bronson Pinchot About Audiobooks You Will Ever Read

I once described [my novel] Authority to a friend as my attempt to show what would happen if Franz Kafka and Dilbert had a love-child that was then raised by John le Carré and Mark Z. Danielewski. How, then, to read something like that aloud? Done the wrong way, it could be a mess. Yet miraculously, when I heard Pinchot’s version, it was exactly as I’d imagined it might turn out if done right — with an understanding of the rhythms of the language and the intent behind them. I felt almost as if Pinchot peered out from between the words on the page, a position perfect for a novel haunted by so many things. So when the opportunity arose to have an in-depth conversation with Pinchot about audiobooks and the decisions you make inhabiting a text, I couldn’t resist the opportunity.

A True Detective Fan’s Guide to Thomas Ligotti

Who the hell is Thomas Ligotti? That’s the question many people were asking after a spate of articles last week speculated on plagiarism charges leveled against True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto on an H.P. Lovecraft website. The media attention spiked sales of the book at the center of the controversy — Ligotti’s nonfiction philosophy tome The Conspiracy Against the Human Race — to the point that it began to outsell Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

New York Times Book Review

Escape from LA: Edan Lepucki’s California

Perhaps the world as we know it will indeed end this way for many Americans: terrified of porcupines, longing for the sound of S.U.V.s, unable to ­distinguish between an artifact and a keepsake, helped to find temporary sanctuary by the last black man on earth. If it does, we won’t be able to say that “California” didn’t warn us.

Los Angeles Times

Sci-fi and Fantasy Authors Reveal the Truth in the Strangest Fictions (with contributions from Nnedi Okorafor, Lauren Beukes, Ann Leckie, Lev Grossman.)

Authors of speculative fiction face a completely opposite expectation, discovering that spectacle comes with the assumption that fantastical characters, dystopian story arcs, even an encounter with an alluring ghost emerged whole from the author’s imagination, without any help from anything as boring as the pesky and unreliable imp known as reality.

(Another piece that ran on the LAT website, a short essay by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, the author who wrote the novel that the blockbuster film Edge of Tomorrow was based on, started out as answers intended for this article, but worked better as a stand-alone piece.)

Insomnia Takes Over the World: Black Moon by Kenneth Calhoun

Writing about sleeplessness and dreams is ambitious. Cramming so many viewpoint characters into a relatively short novel is also ambitious. Like a half-formed dream, the novel aspires to encompass both the detached compassion of Ben Marcus’ “Flame Alphabet” and some atonal mix of Bret Easton Ellis and Stephen King-style Americana.

An Epic Fantasy of Brotherly Bonds: The Great Glass Sea by Josh Weil

Yet Weil’s earnest, deep commitment to a portrait of brothers in crisis means that these issues recede into the backdrop. There’s pathos and tension in how Yarik becomes trapped in his relationship with Bazarov. There’s breathtaking brilliance in Weil’s portrayal of Dima as an outcast estranged from society, especially in one astonishing scene in which Dima walks around in a reverie of dissolution.

The Guardian

Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson: Book Review

Early in the story, Pete observes that “We’re all animals. Just dancing bears in tutus and monkeys with cigarettes. Painted up and stuffed into clown cars.” Henderson is committed to showing us unhappy and unstable people existing at the edges of any safety net. But they’re also people struggling to find a kind of truth, and they’re portrayed with compassion and humanity, in a voice that crackles and lurches with the intensity of a Tom Waits song. Here, at the beginning of his career, Henderson has come within shouting distance of writing a great American novel.

Huffington Post

The Nature of Reading: 10 Influences on the Southern Reach

The series might be a mix of science fiction and conspiracy/spy fiction, but the underlying concepts come out of an intense awareness of our natural landscapes and of our current predicament with regard to global warming. I wanted for any details about the natural world in my series to be based on direct observation, rather than received second- or third-hand. For the real research involved, I have been grateful for ideas encountered in a number of texts, most of them directly rooted in some aspect of the natural world. Here are the top 10.

Bookanista

My Wilderness Year

My R&R right after was to plunge right into what we’d been talking about: the wilderness. I drove up the coast to Morro Bay and spent a couple of days at the Blue Sail Inn. Morro Bay, dominated by a giant rock in the harbor, is a great base from which to explore the coast – walk along the beaches, hike the seaside cliffs, and go up into the foothills leading into the mountains.

Largehearted Boy

Music Influences on the Southern Reach Trilogy

Much of this music documents a measure of the beautiful strangeness of our world and juxtaposes against that backdrop the lives of people who are flawed, sometimes struggling, but always trying. Most of them just want to do the right thing, even if they keep doing the wrong thing. Some of this is momentous and stirring and desperate. Much of it is also by turns mysterious, absurd, funny, or wonderfully creepy. Hopefully the novels are too.