Jeff VanderMeer
Annihilation (Book 1: The Southern Reach Trilogy)

Annihilation (Book 1: The Southern Reach Trilogy) by Jeff VanderMeer

There have been eleven expeditions into Area X, a zone that for thirty years has remained mysterious, remote, and sealed off by the government as an environmental disaster zone. Some expeditions are known to have suffered terrible consequences; others reported nothing out of the ordinary.

This story is told by a biologist on the twelfth expedition, and begins as her team crosses the border into Area X where they find a pristine and extraordinarily beautiful wilderness. Upon realizing that the information previously given to them about Area X is incomplete or deliberately inaccurate, she becomes determined to finally solve the riddle of Area X and thereby answer personal questions of her own. Going underground to investigate a place referred to simply and ominously as "the tower," however, she finds herself dangerously contaminated. With new clarity, she sees that she and her peers are being manipulated by forces both strange and all too familiar, and finds out what it truly means to face the unknown.

Over the course of The Southern Reach trilogy, an ever-more interconnected cast of characters will attempt to decipher the riddle that is Area X before it's too late. Efforts to solve that puzzle will break some and set others free, as Area X becomes the crucible for their hopes and dreams... and the key to Earth's survival. But the question each finds him- or herself coming up against time and time again is: how do you fight what you can't understand?

Praise for Jeff VanderMeer's Annihilation:

"[T]his short work packs a big punch, as the author has rare skills for building tension and making the reader feel the claustrophobic dread of his characters. Readers will be unsettled, intrigued, and eager for the next volume in this new trilogy." —Library Journal

"How often do you stumble across great new science fiction? It's a genre that never gets the attention it deserves. All the more reason to delight in Jeff Vandermeer's Annihilation . . . The plot moves quickly and has all the fantastic elements you'd ever want—biological contaminants, peculiar creatures, mysterious deaths—but it's the novel's unbearable dread that lingers with me days after I've finished it." —Justin Alvarez, The Paris Review

"[S]trange, clever, off-putting, maddening, claustrophobic, occasionally beautiful, occasionally disturbing and altogether fantastic" —NPR

"[T]horoughly suspenseful. In a manner similar to H. G. Wells' in The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896), VanderMeer weaves together an otherworldly tale of the supernatural and the half-human." —Booklist, starred review

"Speculative fiction at its most transfixing." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"[B]rilliant first in a trilogy from fantasy author VanderMeer . . . Using evocative descriptions of the biologist's outer and inner worlds, masterful psychological insight, and intellectual observations both profound and disturbing—calling Lovecraft to mind and Borges—VanderMeer unfolds a tale as satisfying as it is richly imagined." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

"[A] clear triumph for VanderMeer, who after numerous works of genre fiction has suddenly transcended genre with a compelling, elegant and existential story of far broader appeal. That's not to say his genre readers should turn away — on the contrary. . . . The apparent tragedy and freakish ecology of Area X's blight are quite fascinating, and the solitary voice of its post-humanist narrator is both deeply flawed and deeply trustworthy—a difficult and excellent balance in a novel whose world is built seamlessly and whose symbols are rich and dark." —The L.A. Times Book Review

"From the book's very first paragraph VanderMeer conveys a strong sense of unease. . . . VanderMeer ups the book's eeriness quotient with the smoothest of skill, the subtlest of grace. His prose makes the horrific beautiful."
The Seattle Times

"[A]bsolutely f***ing brilliant" —ChiZine blog

"VanderMeer both defies and challenges genre boundaries, forcing readers to forget about traditional tropes and clichés and simply enjoy the storytelling." —Kirkus Reviews' "Best Bets for Speculative Fiction Books—Feb 2014"

"Annihilation is successfully creepy, an old-style gothic horror novel set in a not-too-distant future. The best bits turn your mind inside out . . . VanderMeer has already written two sequels, Authority and Acceptance, which will be published later in 2014. Amazingly soon, in other words — but, if you ask me, not soon enough." —The Washington Post

"VanderMeer focuses on more philosophical themes, questioning the boundaries between the individual and her society, and between linearity and circularity. With the narrator under the influence of a mind-altering toxin throughout the text, it makes for a heady ride of ideas, while never skimping on the action and world-building." —School Library Journal

"Jeff VanderMeer's new novel Annihilation lures you in with a seriously intriguing mystery, then leaves you filled with incredible, delicious dread
. . . . it will make you believe in the power of science mysteries again." —io9

"[B]rilliant . . . riveting, destabilizing and utterly strange . . . wildly imaginative, vaguely mystical . . . VanderMeer's story is thrilling, confusing, disturbing. But its deepest terror lies in its exploration of the vacancies of the human heart, and the terror that can grow from the ways in which we are untrue to each other, and to ourselves." —Globe and Mail

"VanderMeer has immersed us in a mind that is almost as unusual as the environment it's studying … VanderMeer masterfully conjures up an atmosphere of both metaphysical dread and visceral tension in counterpoint to the biologist's invariably cool, precise language. Annihilation is a novel in which facts are undermined and doubt instilled at almost every turn. It's about science as a way of not only thinking but feeling, rather than science as a means of becoming certain about the world." —Salon

Related media links:

"From Annihilation to Acceptance: A Writer’s Surreal Journey" in The Atlantic

"The Weird Thoreau" in The New Yorker

"The Illusions of Control: Jeff VanderMeer's extraordinary Southern Reach Trilogy" in Slate

Publication Date: February 4 2014
Page extent: 208 (pb)

World rights (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Brazil (Editora Intrinseca)
Canada (HarperCollins Canada)
Germany (Verlag Antje Kunstmann GmbH)
Hungary (Agave Konyvek Kft.)
Israel (Graff Publishers)
Italy (Giulio Einaudi Editore)
Japan (Hayakawa Shobo)
Netherlands (De Bezige Bij)
Poland (Wydawnictwo Otwarte)
Romania (Editura Trei)
Russia (EXMO Publishers)
Spain (Editorial Seix Barral)
UK (Fourth Estate)
Film rights (Paramount Pictures and Scott Rudin Productions)
Audio (Blackstone Audiobooks)

Jeff VanderMeer

Photo Credit: Kyle Cassidy

Jeff VanderMeer is an award-winning novelist, and the author most recently of Borne and the New York Times bestselling Southern Reach Trilogy, the first book of which, Annihilation, is being released as a feature film starring Natalie Portman, Oscar Isaac, and Gina Rodriguez in spring 2018. His fiction has been translated into thirty-five languages and his nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times. He grew up in the Fiji Islands and now lives in Tallahassee, Florida, with his wife.