Friday, August 19, 2016

Jeff VanderMeer, Area X

If you're wondering whether to read Jeff VanderMeer's Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy, maybe just read what the New Yorker had to say: "Often, speculative fiction betrays itself, becoming predictable just at the moment when it's supposed to be 'out there.' But the Southern Reach books make it all the way out."

Mind you, the New Yorker drops a clanger in the piece that shows its ignorance about places far from New York, describing the book's setting as "a landscape that combines the marshes of Florida with the islands of Vancouver." The islands of Vancouver are what, now?

The New Yorker is too mainstream to be trusted for its views about SF, of course, except by non-SF readers who fancy themselves up for a bit of slumming (Atwood fans, for example), and the same could be said for the celebrated piece on Area X in the LA Review of Books. Still, reviews and reception from the broad SF community have been very positive as well.

The forthcoming trilogy of movies based on the novel(s) will be massively successful, I should think, but it's going to be crucial that you read the book(s) first: they're gripping, evocative, and readily accessible even though (because?) they're deeply, deeply weird. This is NON-postapocalyptic ecological SF, and for all kinds of reasons, it's something that almost everyone ought to read.

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