Blackstone’s interview with my about the Southern Reach series.
This week, Blackstone releases the audiobook of my novel Authority as well. It’s read by the actor Bronson Pinchot, who does a rather amazing job. It’s a riveting performance, and Pinchot’s decisions on characters like the Voice are spot-on. Even his decisions on the very opening little snippet:
In Control’s dreams since he came to the Southern Reach it is early morning, the sky deep blue with just a twinge of light. He is staring from a cliff down into an abyss, a bay, a cove. It always changes. He can see for miles into the still water. He can see ocean behemoths gliding there, like submarines or bell-shaped orchids or the wide hulls of ships, silent, ever-moving, the size of them conveying such a sense of power that he can feel the havoc of their passage even from so far above. He stares for hours at the shapes, the movements, listening to the whispers echoing up to him…and then he falls. Slowly, too slowly, he falls soundless into the dark water, without splash or ripple. And keeps falling. Sometimes this happens while he is awake, as if he hasn’t been paying enough attention, and then he silently recites his own name until the real world returns to him.
He gets the cadence perfect on the first sentences, giving them a kind of relaxed intensity and dreamlike quality, which then sharpens into the present moment with the last sentence. The choices for the various voices are also great, and he does a magnificent job of slowing down in certain sections and speeding up a bit where needed.
There are a fair number of coiled, circular, and absurd passages in Authority. To encompass all of that in one performance–to get across hints of dark humor and then also move all the way to extremities of horror–is quite a feat. I’m entirely in awe of it, and also appreciative. The right reader makes a huge difference to me as a writer, especially with the series so fresh in my mind. The right reader also helps you see your own text more clearly.
Even if you don’t normally buy audiobooks, you might want to check this one out. You can listen to a sample here.
Here’s more information on the novel, too.
The bone-chilling, hair-raising second installment of the Southern Reach Trilogy For thirty years, a secret agency called the Southern Reach has monitored expeditions into Area X—a remote and lush terrain mysteriously sequestered from civilization. After the twelfth expedition, the Southern Reach is in disarray, and John Rodriguez (a.k.a. “Control”) is the team’s newly appointed head. From a series of interrogations, a cache of hidden notes, and more than two hundred hours of profoundly troubling video footage, the secrets of Area X begin to reveal themselves—and what they expose pushes Control to confront disturbing truths about both himself and the agency he’s promised to serve.
“The second volume of VanderMeer’s trilogy…In this sequel, VanderMeer supplements his evocative descriptions of the unnatural Area X with the shadowy, dusty, seemingly half-forgotten offices in which Control spends his time…The book strengthens and develops the narrative arc while remaining fully coherent on its own, revealing more and more secrets about Area X all the while. VanderMeer’s masterful command of the plot, his cast of characters, and the increasingly desperate situation will leave the reader desperate for the final volume in the trilogy.” –
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Authority isn’t a book that just picks up where the last one left off. Instead, it’s packed full of new pleasures, not only new characters and settings but whole new kinds of writing.” – Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore