By morphing Rick Scott and Donald Trump, I fear that reality would be struck a fatal blow and we would spiral into some kind of nightmare scenario in which “fact” is a fairy tale told to future generations as an extinction event.
One of the best things I’m associated with every year is the Shared Worlds teen SF/Fantasy summer writing camp. I serve as co-director and run the creative writing track. As recently announced, the wonderful writer Julia Elliott has been named our Amazon writer-in-residence, in conjunction with an $18,000 grant from Amazon that will help fund scholarships for teens who need financial assistance. You can find more about the grant over at the Amazon book blog.
Every year, teens from all over the country and even the world come to Shared Worlds for a unique mix of world-building and fiction writing. Our guests in addition to Elliott include Nnedi Okorafor, Tobias Buckell, Leah Thomas, Nathan Ballingrud, and Terra Elan McVoy, with Hugo Award-winner Ann VanderMeer as editor-in-residence. We’ll also have a ton of cool activities, in addition to Skype sessions with the brilliant bestselling authors Lev Grossman and Daniel Abraham about their writing and their TV shows on the SyFy Channel.
Also, starting this year, all the students will receive a free copy of my writing guide Wonderbook, from Abrams Image.
Shared Worlds is in its ninth year, which is just an amazing accomplishment. Very proud of this camp. More info, including how to register, at the website.
This July, Vintage will release our The Big Book of Science Fiction–about 800,000 words covering roughly the twentieth century. With more than 105 stories from 29 countries, it’s the most wide-ranging and largest single-volume collection of twenty-century science-fiction stories ever published. You can read some of my prior blog posts about the research at this link.
Entertainment Weekly did a cover reveal along with a piece we wrote giving an inside look at editing the anthology.
Just this weekend, Io9 did a reveal of the table of contents, which includes Borges, Bradbury, Le Guin, Butler, Vonnegut, Dick, St. Clair, Lisa Tuttle, Tanith Lee, Stanislaw Lem, Samuel R. Delany, Kim Stanley Robinson, and…well, check out the link.
But just to break down that TOC a little bit more…
–We chose the twentieth century rather than up to the present day to give ourselves the distance to properly evaluate the fiction and also to allow ourselves enough room to include what needed to be included, given we wanted to explore science fiction from all over the world. (We don’t feel a twenty-first century reprint SF anthology with truly blanket coverage has yet been published, but The Mammoth Book of Science Fiction Stories by Women is an excellent resource for readers looking for a rich overview of the past 15 years or so.)
–We’re proud to have a major novella by Liu Cixin in the anthology–one not widely familiar to SF readers in the West–and also stories by writers like Kojo Laing and Alfred Jarry who may not be thought of in terms of SF but have definitely made fascinating and unique contributions to the genre.
–We’re proud that the estate of David R. Bunch allowed us to reprint three of his infamous Moderan stories–the first time in two decades that has occurred.
–James White’s “Sector General” galactic hospital stories have been underrated for a long time. We’ve included one of his longest and best in our anthology.
–Our anthology features approximately 40 translations out of 100-plus stories, from more than 20 countries.
–The following stories have never appeared in English before now–and Barberi and Zozulya are authors who have never appeared in English before–ever. Ocampo is a major Argentine writer who had previously not been thought to write science fiction, but her story from the 1950s is a very good one indeed!
Jacques Barbéri, “Mondo Cane” 1983 (France) – trans by Brian Evenson
Angélica Gorodischer, “The Unmistakable Smell of Wood Violets” 1973 (Argentina) – trans by Marian Womack
Han Song, “Two Small Birds” 1988 (China) – trans by John Chu
Silvina Ocampo, “The Waves” 1959 (Argentina) – trans by Marian Womack
Paul Scheerbart, “The New Overworld” 1911 (Germany) – trans by Daniel Ableev and Sarah Kaseem
Karl Hans Strobl, “The Triumph of Mechanics” 1907 (Germany) – trans by Gio Clairval
Yefim Zozulya, “The Doom of Principal City” 1918 (Russian) – trans by Vlad Zhenevsky
–We also commissioned re-translations, usually in cases where an existing translation was more than 25-30 years old or where we thought the existing translation had some flaws. These are those new re-translations:
Juan José Arreola, “Baby H.P.” 1952 (Mexico) – trans by Larry Nolen
Dmitri Bilenkin, “Crossing of the Paths” 1984 (Russia)– trans by James Womack
Adolfo Bioy Casares, “The Squid Chooses Its Own Ink” 1962 (Argentina) – trans by Marian Womack
Sever Gansovsky, “Day of Wrath” 1964 (Ukraine) – trans by James Womack
Alfred Jarry, “The Elements of Pataphysics” 1911 (France)– trans by by Gio Clairval
Arkady & Boris Strugatsky, “The Visitors” 1958 (Russia) – trans by James Womack
Miguel de Unamuno, “Mechanopolis” 1913 (Spain) – trans by Marian Womack
Valentina Zhuravlyova, “The Astronaut” 1960 (Russia) – trans by James Womack
–Stories by Robert Heinlein, Van Vogt, and Bob Shaw were not available to reprint as the respective estates do not provide permissions at this time.
–Far-future SF “indistinguishable from magic” (like Jack Vance) we have decided to consider for a future Big Book of Fantasy. Time travel stories were largely covered by our Time Traveler’s Almanac. Steampunk stories seemed more fantastical than SFnal and also have been covered in our three Steampunk volumes.
–We had the opportunity to acquire what you might call fairly complete “through-lines” of some Latin American and Russian/Ukrainian SF. Other lines of inquiry yielded less information, and not every country or literary tradition has a wide science-fiction component. That said, we know we could have included much more French SF, for example, and areas of emphasis to devote very robust resources to for our next antho, a Big Book of Fantasy, include not just much more from France but increased focus on countries in Southeast Asia and India, up to the present day.
The 11,000-word introduction to the anthology and the 50,000 words of author/story notes provide additional context and information. We’re very proud that the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction allowed us to use some material from their site in the creation of the author bios.
It’s a busy few weeks upcoming–with travel to Vanderbilt, and then to Europe for a series of events, including the Dutch Comic Con (with Ann VanderMeer) and the French release of Annihilation. You’ll find all of the details below. I hope to see some of you at these events. Meanwhile, Annihilation movie news should continue to pop up in the next couple of months. Thanks again to everyone for reading. – Jeff
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, March 14, Mon., 7:00 p.m., Wilson Hall 126 (Directions and more info here and facebook event page here) – As part of Vanderbilt’s Eos initiative, I’ll speak about climate fiction and the Southern Reach trilogy, including a reading from Annihilation. Book signing after.
Paris Book Fair, March 19, Sat., 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., and March 20, Sun., 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Book Signing events, for publisher Au diable vauvert (Details here) – Attending the Paris Book Fair, I’ll be signing and talking as part of Au diable vauvert’s author contingent.
Librairie Charybde, Paris, March 22, Tues., 7:00 p.m. (129, rue de Charenton; details here) – A bookstore signing for Annihilation
Dutch Comic Con, Utrech, Netherlands, March 26-27, Sat.-Sun. (Details here) – Ann VanderMeer and I will be on four panels, ranging in subject matter from art to horror and more. Check their schedule for times and locations.
Gala voor het Fantastische Boek, Amsterdam, Netherlands, April 2, Sat. (Facebook event page) – Along with Susan Ross and Thomas Ross, I’ll be a guest speaker at the Gala during the Harland Awards ceremony. Earlier in the day, Ann VanderMeer and I will also lead a discussion about publishing and author careers in the modern era, with possibly one other event as well.
As some of you know, Ann VanderMeer and I run Cheeky Frawg Books. We primarily publish international fiction, and have lately focused on Finnish authors. The culmination of that interest took the form of the 850-page Leena Krohn: Collected Fiction, which we released in early December of last year. This omnibus collecting novels, novellas, and short fiction from one of Finland’s most respected writers took three years and more than half a dozen translators, as well as two designers, to get off the ground. Thanks to everyone who helped out–we couldn’t have done it without you. (Press kit here.)
We decided to publish such a huge compilation because we thought it would be hard for anyone to miss it–after all, it weighs almost five pounds! And since publication we’ve been blessed with so much amazing love for the collection–including from the New Yorker and the New York Times!–that I thought I’d post some of the relevant links. It’s not often that a quixotic project like this one receives the recognition it deserves, and we’re very grateful. We’re especially grateful to Kirkus for posting a starred review to get things rolling, Bustle for putting it on their best December books, and to AV Club for putting it on their year’s best list–as well as SF Signal for sharing the table of contents. We even got a shout-out from the New York public library.
REVIEWS AND FEATURES
Elizabeth Hand in the Los Angeles Times: “This is a writer whose work can rewire your brain, leaving you with an enhanced, near-hallucinatory apprehension of our fragile planet, and of all the beings that inhabit it.”
Peter Bebergal’s feature “Cracking the Codes of Leena Krohn” in the New Yorker: “n when working with fantastical elements, Krohn is perpetually attentive to what different forms of information—intuitions, the Internet, the inner lives of other creatures—can reveal to us about ourselves.”
New Yorker‘s list of “books we loved in 2015,” selected by Joshua Rothman: “Krohn writes like a fantastical Lydia Davis, in short chapters the length of prose poems. Her characters often have a noirish toughness.”
N.K. Jemisin’s review in the New York Times: “A haunting, lovely book.”
The Mumpsimus’s musing about the collected fiction: “This book is as important a publishing event in its own way as New Directions’ release earlier this year of Clarice Lispector’s Complete Stories.”
NPR.org’s Jason Heller covers Krohn and other “hot” Finnish writers: “Its centerpiece is Tainaron, Mail from Another City, a breathtaking tale told in letters home from a city called Tainaron. It’s an unmappable, magic-realist sprawl of allegorical weirdness and symbolic wonder, an ever-morphing metropolis that wouldn’t feel out of place in Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities.”
Johanna Sinisalo at Lithub on Five Finnish writers you should know: “A new omnibus of the best of her beautifully strange, often laconically philosophical novels and short stories that—with a touch of the surreal and fantastic—explore contemporary social and scientific issues with phenomenal clarity of both thought and style.”
An interview with me at io9 about Krohn and international fiction: “What I loved about Tainaron was this mosaic way of putting a novel together, but even more so how Krohn manages to make the most surreal concept pragmatic and tactile. She makes the impossible believable, and often in a way that’s both direct and poetic.”
An interview with Krohn at Electric Literature: “I think that the human brain weaves stories even when sleeping in order to stay healthy and functioning. I often write the stories or ‘acts’ that make up my novels without deciding their order in advance.”
An interview with Krohn at Lightspeed: “I try to be short and clear and rich in my writing. These were the three virtues of a writer, which H. C. Andersen talked about. (I love Andersen, because he knew that everything in the world is living.) Our life is consisting of short fragments, which our consciousness tries to unite. Our selves are the integral part of all happenings. There are no incidents without an observer, and where there is an observer, there are incidents. Writing is uniting.”
Literary buzz about Krohn at Publishing Perspectives.
Des Lewis’s real-time review of the entire collection!
Three Excerpts at Weirdfictionreview.com: (from Tainaron and others)
“Lucilia Illustris at Electric Literature (stand-alone story)
“Gorgonoids” at Lightspeed (from Mathematical Beings)
My year in review included writing two novels, working on some stuff for other media, teaching at Yale and UBC, book tours in Canada, Sardinia, and the Netherlands. My wife and I co-edited an anthology titled Sisters of the Revolution and we published a huge omnibus of the fiction of Leena Krohn. The Annihilation movie from Paramount continues to chug along, with shooting supposed to start in May of 2016. (And, in terms of continuing coverage of the Southern Reach, I think I got the biggest kick out of this New Yorker piece on the subject.)
But I also published a fair amount of nonfiction this year, especially in the long-form. I wrote introductions or forewords to quite a few books. I also did a few other pieces, like this interview with musician Vernon Reid for Esquire.com (pictured above) and this one with novelist Monica Byrne for Electric Lit.
I’m proud of these pieces–and thankful for the opportunity to write longer essays for various places. Thanks to the Atlantic, Electric Literature, the Guardian, and Slate. Electric Literature in particular has given me the opportunity to talk about subjects I think are important. (Next year it looks like I’m doing an intro for a book from NYRB Classics and some reviews in the spring for the Washington Post, as a start.)
Anyway, happy holidays/new year–and in case you missed any of this and find it of interest, the links with excerpts are below.
LONG-FORM & REVIEWS
From Annihilation to Acceptance – My tragi-comic account of writing and touring behind the Southern Reach Trilogy, for the Atlantic. “The next morning, I get back in the car to run an errand and find the mosquito’s body obscured by a quick-acting fungus composed of delicate white filaments. I am in such a state of superstition, influenced by the novel, that I cannot bring myself to get a napkin and wipe it away. I am not even sure now that I swatted the mosquito in the first place. Is someone getting inside my car?”
The Slow Apocalypse and Fiction – Thoughts on fiction and climate change for Electric Literature, initiated by attending the Sonic Acts Geologic Imagination conference early this year. “Given our modern predicament, readers may soon reject myths that aggregate as they do in many near-future novels as wistfulness for car commercials, for Starbucks lattes, or for a thousand trifling conveniences….Who, sane, ethical, would wish for a time like ours of unrelenting animal carnage, for example? For the dead wreckage of our systems being sold to us as the height of technological evolution?”
The Unusual Mind of Clarice Lispector – A happy discovery this year was Clarice Lispector, when Slate asked me to review her Complete Stories (New Directions). The review went a bit long, which only made sense given the depth and breadth of material I needed to cover. “Sometimes when you don’t care about how many writing rules you break, you wind up somewhere sublime and subversive and original. Reading Lispector, you see this happen with startling regularity.”
Are We Alone? – Thoughts on extraterrestrial life and fiction for Electric Literature, in part through the lens of life on Earth and our unquestioning allegiance to modern tech. “How horrific would it be if humankind reached the stars, landed on a planet, and wound up eating sentient life-forms without realizing it?” Expanded slightly from a presentation I gave at the Arthur C. Clarke Center for the Human Imagination
Are We Alone? SF is as sure a guide as any – A much shorter version of my “Are We Alone?” essay, for the Guardian, that focuses on one section of the four-part longer essay, with some expansion therein.
Epic Best-of-2015 Essay – I took a lot of time and care in crafting the descriptions of the books on my list. It’s meant to be a joyful exploration and discussion of some amazing fiction and nonfiction. “Working on a couple of novels, I closed myself off from the internet for several months and during that time I wrote in the mornings and afternoons, then did nothing but read in the evenings—long, uninterrupted reading that healed a fragmented brain and energized my writing. With that isolation, I found it possible to once again live in my own writing and the writing of others. It was one of the most peaceful periods of the last few years for me.”
INTRODUCTIONS & FOREWORDS
Foreword to Songs of a Dead Dreamer & Grimscribe by Thomas Ligotti – It was a great pleasure to pen a foreword to this reissue from Penguin Classics. “Ligotti’s fiction, temporarily unhooked it from the weird, is best understood as a continuing interrogation of the legitimacy of our modern lives. He is exploring the underbelly of modernity—personal and societal. His interest is in the blight beneath, whether it occurs solely in the mind or is expressed through actions. For this reason, the films of David Lynch and the fiction of Thomas Ligotti sometimes speak to each other in interesting ways.”
American Kafka? – My introduction to Michael Cisco’s The Narrator (Lazy Fascist Press), for LitHub. “These feats depend on a layering that’s extraordinary for weird fiction and is given rare power by the attention to detail in the brilliant set pieces that Cisco strings together to tell his tale.”
Introduction to Strugatsky Brothers’ The Dead Mountaineer’s Inn – A romp of a farce with mysterious weirdness and weird mysteriousness, published by Melville House. I was honored to be able to write about two of Russia’s most famous writers. “Confused? Don’t be. Think instead of the movie Clue or any number of British slapstick mystery-comedies. Perhaps with a hint of the Twilight Zone. Because not only does every man wear the face he deserves, but in The Dead Mountaineer’s Inn the Strugatsky Brothers, creators of the Forbidden Zone in their classic SF novel Roadside Picnic, give every reader the farce they deserve—with possible infernal devices thrown in to spice up the recipe.”
Introduction to Sisters of the Revolution (with Ann VanderMeer) – Ann and I had one co-edited anthology out this year, a feminist speculative fiction volume, and I co-wrote the introduction with her. “Our contribution to the conversation includes the great flowering of feminist speculative fiction in the late 1960s through the 1970s, which created the foundation for the wonderful wealth and diversity of such fiction in the present-day. The entry into the field of so many amazing writers at once transformed science fiction and fantasy forever.”
Introduction to The Bestiary – Ann VanderMeer’s Bestiary anthology needed an introduction, so I wrote a rather fanciful piece for it. “Tales of the first failed bestiary come to us from Roman-conquered England, where a goatherd claimed to have witnessed a wondrous zoological triumph “from the lands beyond.” However, upon closer examination, these wonders turned into a herd of burly goats dressed up or shaved in ingenious ways to make them resemble mythical beasts like the chimera and the phoenix.”
Foreword to Leena Krohn: Collected Fiction – Through our Cheeky Frawg press, we published an 850-page volume of Leena Krohn’s collected novels, novellas, and short stories. Normally I wouldn’t do the introduction for a book I published, but there was so little on Krohn written in English prior to this publishing event that I turned out to be one of the few experts on her works in English.
If you’re looking for a last-minute holiday gift, or even just after the holidays, I’d like to recommend our current StoryBundle, which features a select mix of novels, novelettes, and anthologies. Much of the content is not available elsewhere right now–for example, the e-book of Anna Tambour‘s novel Cranolin, Ann VanderMeer’s The Bestiary anthology (featuring Mieville and Valente), Egner’s The Eisenberg Constant. Others, like Leena Krohn’s Collected Fiction and Berit Ellingsen’s Not Dark Yet are brand-new releases. Add to that high-quality fiction anthologies from Clarkesworld, Athena Andreadis and Kay Holt, Marian & James Womack, and you’ve got a lovely assemblage of the best in modern speculative fiction. The Leena Krohn 850-page collection pictured above with an author photo is on the year’s best list of both the New Yorker and the Onion’s AV Club. It’s the most mammoth release yet from our Cheeky Frawg Books.
Where does the money from this StoryBundle go? Well, first and foremost to the writers and publishers. In some cases, the writers will earn out their advance from the proceeds. For our part, our cut (as publishers of some of these books) goes right back into research on international fiction and into translations. The expensive involved in translations can preclude them from being included in anthologies. What we work hard to accomplish is the idea that translations in our anthologies are part of the plan every single time. We do the investigative work necessary to track down fascinating and unique voices. We find the right translators. Our goal on anthology projects, to be quite frank, is to cast as wide and deep a net as possible, to the point of throwing our part of the advance into the story permissions pot. Material from this research also winds up on Weirdfictionreview.com, and this StoryBundle serves as an unofficial fund-raiser for that site as well.
So, for this StoryBundle, running until December 31, I thought I’d tell you about three titles included that I really think should be in anyone’s library: Crandolin by Anna Tambour, The Narrator by Michael Cisco, and Not Dark Yet by Berit Ellingsen. I think they’re all modern classics. The reason I group them together in this post isn’t just because they’re in the StoryBundle, but because I think they typify some of the great work that’s currently being done in the fabulist/speculative mode.
Perhaps the hardest novel to describe is one of the most delightful: Crandolin by Anna Tambour. In a medieval cookbook in a special-collections library, near-future London, jaded food and drink authority Nick Kippax finds an alluring stain next to a recipe for the mythical crandolin. He tastes it, ravishing the page. Then he disappears. As the ad copy goes, “The only novel ever committed that was inspired by postmodern physics and Ottoman confectionery.” There are adventures and also clever conversations, there are characters named Falderolo and Savva. There’s also a drunk with a fish, but perhaps it’s best not to mention him. The novel is episodic and wondrous, reminding me of the best of Merce Rodoreda, Rikki Ducornet, and others of that ilk. With a little dash of Don Quixote thrown in, lingering in the background. What I particularly enjoyed was the mix of the fantastical and the science-fictional. Not to mention…The Omniscient (you’ll know what I’m talking about when you read it). In short, utterly original and a work of great energy and originality. “Isn’t a cyclops quaint? And wolves that eat little girls, etcetera?” I’m not at all surprised it wound up on the World Fantasy Award shortlist as well as praised by Ellen Datlow and Lucius Shepard.
In Michael Cisco’s The Narrator, the narrator Low is conscripted into an army to fight against the “blackbirds,” who possess lighter-than-air armor. But first, our hero must play a waiting game in a city of cannibal queens and uncanny dead things, with priests for both the living and the dead. The Edak, strange remnants of a mighty imperial power, must be avoided at all costs. Once his unit is mobilized, Low sets off on a journey that is by turns absurd, surreal, deadly, and one of the great feats of the imagination thus far in this century. These feats depend on a layering that’s extraordinary for weird fiction and is given rare power by the attention to detail in the brilliant set pieces that Cisco strings together to tell his tale. I’ve rarely come across so many instances where I was simultaneously in the moment of the novel but also recognizing that I was encountering images and situations unlike any I’d ever read before–like sleepwalkers that bruise the skin of reality and assailants who skim the surface of the water in armor that’s lighter than air. Yet the true wonder of The Narrator is that in addition to the hauntings and unique marvels of the supernatural on offer, the novel is also an extended treatise on the negation of meaning that is war. The individual meaninglessness of it and the group rationalization of it. The result is to come close to conveying the derangement required to wage war. “An army is a horror. It’s a horrible thing.”
As we enter farther into an era of climate change and environmental instability, the rules for fiction change a bit. The usual attitudes about animals and how we view the landscapes around us will become altered, and some fiction will become extinct or unreadable except as toxic nostalgia. Berit Ellingsen gets the complexity of what faces us, and has found interesting and sometimes startling ways to express it through fiction in her novel Not Dark Yet. An ex-military man, Brandon, goes off to be alone in a remote cabin in the mountains–abandoning his boyfriend in the aftermath of catastrophe in a day job that involves experimenting on owls. From that anchor, Ellingsen weaves a tale of true character and narrative complexity, one that opens up into Brandon’s past and forward into his future while examining the ways we deal with the ways in which our world is being altered for us and by us. From the astronaut program to sustainable farming, from eco-terrorism to animal behavior, the novel has a sprawling and impressive range. It’s powerful and sometimes surreal stuff, and Ellingsen doesn’t try to provide clear-cut answers or to lecture. More, she follows her character and we come to see the strangeness of the world through his eyes. This is the best work yet from a truly unique writer who clearly will be a name to conjure with for decades to come.
On the StoryBundle, anything you can do is of use–even just sharing this link. We’d love to reach our goal, and we’re close to it but need a little help from friends, a little push to get us over the top. Thanks!
I’m pleased to announce that I’ve accepted a very generous offer from Hobart & William Smith Colleges in upstate New York to be their 2016-2017 Trias Writer-in-Residence. I’ll teach one class in the fall of next year and come back a few times in the spring of 2017 to work with a few select students. This residency has additional interest for me because I get to help curate a reading series, be of use in the community, and hopefully liaison for some interdisciplinary project involving the environment.
“The Peter Trias Residency at Hobart and William Smith Colleges is designed to give distinguished poets and fiction writers time to write. Academic expectations allow for sustained interaction with our best students while providing the freedom necessary to produce new work. Residents are active, working artists whose presence contributes to intellectual environment of the Colleges and the town of Geneva.”
I’m very excited about using some of the more advanced material in my writing guide Wonderbook as a jumping off point for discussion and creating a reading list for the class. My wife Ann VanderMeer, an award-winning editor, will be coming with me for the fall semester, although she’ll be working on her own projects.
We’re headed to Canada for a two-week mini-residency at the University of British Columbia–should be fun. But I’m also a guest at Calgary’s Wordfest and Vancouver’s Writers Fest, in support of HarperCollins Canada’s release of a beautiful omnibus trade paperback of all three Southern Reach novels as Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy. It really is a gorgeous edition. In Calgary, I participated in their Literary Death Match and then in a late-night series of reading and interviews with Nick Cutter, Irina Kovalyova, and Neil Smith.
In Vancouver, I’ve got three events, with details on all of them available here. Two panels: Labels and Fables (Oct. 20, Tues, 6pm) and then Weird Fiction (Oct. 21, Wed, 8:30pm), both with Kelly Link and other great writers.
Finally, there’s An Evening with Jeff VanderMeer on Saturday night (Oct. 24, Sat., 8pm).
For the “evening with” I’ll be sharing the experience of writing the Southern Reach trilogy, including the rather dark and absurd real-life events that went into creating the characters and situations in the novels. This should be a very entertaining event–at least, I promise to give you some juicy and candid behind-the-scenes anecdotes.
All of these events are ticketed–please check out the links for details. I think it’ll be a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to meeting a lot of wonderful writers and readers. So, please join me.
The lovely and amazing 4th Estate trade paperback covers (UK editions)–now available.
No, I’m not back on the internet. I’m pretty much off the internet until October, but through the magic of scheduling posts in advance, I can tell you: go forth and acquire the new UK trade paperbacks of the Southern Reach trilogy. They’re beautiful.
I’m also able to come to you from the past to spill some Area X secrets. I’ve followed the discussions at Goodreads and elsewhere about Area X and what happens in the novels. I’m really humbled and flattered readers are willing to spend the time analyzing the books in such an in-depth way. I’ve been blessed with readers who are willing to accept ambiguity and recognize that this particular trilogy was never going to be about easy answers. But those readers have also gleaned a fair number of the clues and hit upon those answers the series does provide.
In support of that, I thought I’d let slip some little bits of information. This info may not come as a surprise to some, but it does qualify as SPOILER, so I’ll put a big image of Area X here between you and it. Scroll down if you wish.
Regarding speculation about the plant/flower: Think of the plant and the bloom as markers on a map. A kind of planting of a flag. But in this case one that draws attention or influence to it. It doesn’t bode well that Control finds a dead one in his desk drawer…
Regarding the animal transformations: Area X doesn’t feel threatened and doesn’t encounter “abnormalities.”
Regarding doppelgangers: Something is wrong or some threat is identified, and thus the “spy” is sent back as counter-spy. To put it as simply as possible.
Complicating matters: Environmental factors and other Area X imperatives can interfere with these definitions or explanations having through-line clarity. Because of this, it seemed unlikely the Southern Reach would ever have enough data to figure it out.
As for the use of hypnosis in the novels…there are a few hints that Lowry came back from the first expedition with special knowledge used to enhance conditioning and hypnotic effect beyond what is possible in the here-and-now. I do not think hypnosis in the real world works the way it does for Southern Reach operatives. (I *do* think a lot of us are brain-washed by ideology and counter-factual information, however…and that’s a form of hypnotism if you think about it.)
As for [redacted], the truth is more astonishing than you might think. It’s actually [redacted], who was [redacted] in the [redacted] because of [redacted].