The Strange Bird Enters the World: New Borne Fiction

(“The Strange Bird is…ingenious, provocative, and deeply moving.” – DePaul’s Environmental Critique blog)

My novel Borne has been selling briskly based on the kindness of reader word-of-mouth, hand-selling by bookstores, and continued critical acclaim. I’m happy a novel with a giant flying bear in it has captured so many people’s imaginations. Recently, Borne even popped back up on the Locus bestseller list, and some other regional lists–which is gratifying, four months out from publication.

Now, though, there’s new Borne fiction, The Strange Bird–a substantial, 27,000-word novella set in the same world as Borne and, about half way through, catching up to the timeline in Borne. You’ll learn much more about the foxes, the Magician, and even Rachel and Wick. But, of course, you’ll also follow the story of the Strange Bird alluded to in my novel. Order information here.

Here’s a description:

The Strange Bird is a new kind of creature, built in a laboratory—she is part bird, part human, part many other things. But now the lab in which she was created is under siege and the scientists have turned on their animal creations. Flying through tunnels, dodging bullets, and changing her colors and patterning to avoid capture, the Strange Bird manages to escape.

But she cannot just soar in peace above the earth. The sky itself is full of wildlife that rejects her as one of their own, and also full of technology—satellites and drones and other detritus of the human civilization below that has all but destroyed itself. And the farther she flies, the deeper she finds herself in the orbit of the Company, a collapsed biotech firm that has populated the world with experiments both failed and successful that have outlived the corporation itself: a pack of networked foxes, a giant predatory bear.

With The Strange Bird, Jeff VanderMeer has done more than add another layer, a new chapter, to his celebrated novel Borne. He has created a whole new perspective on the world inhabited by Rachel and Wick, the Magician, Mord, and Borne—a view from above, of course, but also a view from deep inside the mind of a new kind of creature who will fight and suffer and live for the tenuous future of this world.

Readers thus far have been very kind in their reactions to The Strange Bird, which is much, much more than just an add-on to Borne. I never intended to write a long novella set in the Borne universe–it came up unbidden and I was seized by the idea and the characters and became obsessed.

You can read excerpts over at Boing Boing and Tor.

A couple of reviews have appeared already–from DePaul’s Environmental Critique blog and Jeff Karnicky.

I also wrote this editorial for the Revelator that speaks to the themes in the novella and talked about the piece over at Publishers Weekly.

Will there be more Borne fiction? Yes. I’m currently working on a long story called “The Three,” about the dead astronauts in Borne, and a Borne bestiary, cataloging 35 of the 120 creatures in the novel, will be posted online by my publisher the end of this month.