Jeff VanderMeer

Book Cover

“Am I a person?” Borne asks Rachel, in extremis.

“Yes, you are a person,” Rachel tells him. “But like a person, you can be a weapon, too.”

In a ruined, nameless city of the future, Rachel makes her living as a scavenger. She finds a creature she names Borne entangled in the fur of Mord, a gigantic despotic bear that once prowled the corridors of a biotech firm, the Company, until he was experimented on, grew large, learned to fly, and broke free. Made insane by the company’s torture of him, Mord terrorizes the city even as he provides sustenance for scavengers.

At first, Borne looks like nothing at all—just a green lump that might be a discard from the Company, which, although severely damaged, is rumored to still make creatures and send them to far-distant places that have not yet suffered collapse.

Borne reminds Rachel of the island nation of her birth, now long lost to rising seas. She feels an attachment that she resents: attachments are traps, and in this world any weakness can kill you. Yet when she takes Borne to her subterranean sanctuary, Rachel convinces her lover, Wick—a special kind of dealer—not to render down Borne as raw genetic material for the drugs he sells.

But nothing is quite the way it seems: not the past, not the present, not the future. If Wick is hiding secrets, so is Rachel—and Borne most of all. What Rachel finds hidden deep within the Company will change everything and everyone. There, lost and forgotten things have lingered and grown. What they have grown into is mighty indeed.

Praise for Jeff VanderMeer's Borne:

“The conceptual elements in VanderMeer’s fiction are so striking that the firmness with which he cinches them to his characters’ lives is often overlooked. . . . Borne is VanderMeer’s trans-species rumination on the theme of parenting. . . . The novel’s scope is of human dimensions, despite its nonhuman title character. But VanderMeer’s take on the postapocalyptic fantasy is not without subversive ambition. . . . The novel insists that to live in an age of gods and sorcerers is to know that you, a mere person, might be crushed by indifferent forces at a moment’s notice, then quickly forgotten. And that the best thing about human nature might just be its unwillingness to surrender to the worst side of itself.” —The New Yorker

“VanderMeer, author of the acclaimed Southern Reach trilogy, has made a career out of eluding genre classifications, and with Borne he essentially invents a new one. . . . What’s even more remarkable is the reservoirs of feeling that VanderMeer is able to tap into . . . resulting in something more than just weird fiction: weird literature.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“[A]n atmospheric and decidedly dark fable for our time . . . supremely literary, distinctly unusual . . . VanderMeer's deep talent for worldbuilding takes him into realms more reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy's The Road than of the Shire. Superb” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"VanderMeer marries bildungsroman, domestic drama, love story, and survival thriller into one compelling, intelligent story centered not around the gee-whiz novelty of a flying bear but around complex, vulnerable characters struggling with what it means to be a person. VanderMeer’s talent for immersive world-building and stunning imagery is on display in this weird, challenging, but always heartfelt novel." —Booklist, starred review

“Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy was an ever-creeping map of the apocalypse; with Borne he continues his investigation into the malevolent grace of the world, and it’s a thorough marvel.” —Colson Whitehead, the National Book Award winning author of The Underground Railroad

"VanderMeer is that rare novelist who turns to nonhumans not to make them approximate us as much as possible but to make such approximation impossible. . . . This coming-of-age story signals that eco-fiction has come of age as well: wilder, more reckless and more breathtaking than previously thought, a wager and a promise that what emerges from the 21st century will be as good as any from the 20th, or the 19th."
The New York Times Book Review

“[T]he most beautifully written, and believable, post-apocalyptic tale in recent memory . . . Vandermeer, whose many works of fantastika include the bestselling Southern Reach trilogy, outdoes himself in this visionary novel shimmering with as much inventiveness and deliriously unlikely, post-human optimism as Borne himself.” —The LA Times

“VanderMeer’s undeniable skill as a writer keeps what could be an unwieldy blur of a plot from devolving into grim melodrama or atmospheric nihilism. . . . Rachel, a brown-skinned, kinky-haired refugee woman, will also satisfy readers eager to see marginalized figures move to the center of an adventure novel. And there’s enough allusiveness in this story to satisfy a whole conference of literary critics . . . Ultimately, though, these heady delights only add to the engrossing richness of Borne. The main attraction is a tale of mothers and monsters—and of how we make each other with our love.”
The Washington Post

“[D]eeply strange and brilliant . . . powerful . . . thrilling, edge-of-the-seat . . . No one writes a post-apocalyptic landscape like VanderMeer . . . Ovidian in its underpinnings, exploring the radical transformation of life forms and the seams between them.” —The Guardian

“[U]ndeniably imaginative . . . marvelous and tantalizing . . . Magnificently realized” —Library Journal

"Borne, the latest from sci-fi savant Jeff VanderMeer, begins innocently enough: Girl meets strange plantlike creature. But if you haven't read his haunting Southern Reach trilogy, prepare yourself--this is Walden gone horribly wrong." —Esquire

"VanderMeer's world is vast and imaginative . . . [Borne] augments its weirdness with strong characters and worldbuilding, and a narrator who manages to charm and unnerve in equal measure . . . From its biotech creatures to its god-bear and attack beetles, Borne is intriguing, unnerving, and quintessentially VanderMeer." —Barnes & Noble

"Beautiful . . . VanderMeer's fiction is not preachy by any means. Rather, it probes the mysterious of different lifeforms and highlights our human ignorance at the life around us." —Vice

"Borne maintains a wry self-awareness that's rare in dystopias, making it the most necessary VanderMeer book yet." —Wired

"Just as VanderMeer subverted your expectations for each sequel to Annihilation, with Borne he’s written something completely different and unpredictable—not just in terms of the story, but also with regards to language, structure, and point of view." —Chicago Review of Books

"VanderMeer's apocalyptic vision, with its mix of absurdity, horror, and grace, can't be mistaken for that of anyone else. Inventive, engrossing, and heartbreaking, Borne finds [VanderMeer] at a high point of creative accomplishment." —San Francisco Chronicle

Praise for Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy:

"I'm loving the Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer. Creepy and fascinating." —Stephen King

“The three weirdest books I read last year were all by the same writer. His name is Jeff VanderMeer, he’s from Tallahassee, Florida, and he’s the King of Weird Fiction. . . . All that said, last year, he transcended ‘weird.’ He wrote three books—the Southern Reach trilogy—so arresting, unsettling, and unforgettable that even non-weird readers read and loved them. . . . They imagine nature, both human and wild, in a new way. And they take a surprising approach to language: in addition to being confounding science-fiction novels, they are fractured, lyrical love letters to Florida’s mossy northern coast. . . . The books, in other words, touch on all sorts of interesting subjects, and evoke many modern problems. Even so, topical resonance alone can’t account for their appeal.” —The New Yorker

"[P]ure reading pleasure . . . the real accomplishment of these books lies less in their well-designed plots than in VanderMeer's incredibly evocative, naturalist eye. . . . VanderMeer's language is precise, metaphorical but rigorous . . . [the characters] are so thoroughly imagined they sometimes bent this reader's experience with reality . . . VanderMeer has created an immersive and wonderfully realized world" —The New York Times Book Review

"[Authority] 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

"The series is less about a straight throughline of plot and more about constructing a fully realized portrait of peculiar, often alienated people and the odd landscapes they inhabit, both inside and outside of their skulls; and this the author has decidedly achieved." —Kirkus, starred review

". . . the books, for all their Baudrillardian knottiness, are big fun to read . . . the most uncompromising—yet most rewarding—genre series I've read in quite some time" —Slate

"If the guys who wrote Lost had brought H.P. Lovecraft into the room as a script doctor in the first season, the Southern Reach trilogy is what they would've come up with." —NPR Books

"If you start reading [the Southern Reach trilogy], you will read right through in short order. You may also have nightmares. . . . VanderMeer writes much better prose than Poe ever did . . . This is genuinely potent and dream-haunting writing. VanderMeer has arrived." —The Guardian

"VanderMeer's handle on the supernatural gives his writing a unique,
dream-like texture, turning the office politics of the Southern Reach's surreal bureaucracy into a story with all kinds of vague and hallucinatory undertones." —Toronto Star

"[T]ruly compelling" —Entertainment Weekly

"VanderMeer's mind-bending story is written with the pace and intensity of a thriller, and it's vastly entertaining." —The Times (UK)

"Authority's every inch as sinister and suggestive as its successful predecessor. . . . a marvellous manifestation of the same sense of impending dread that made Annihilation so special. In every other respect, however, the insidious second volume of the Southern Reach turns the series on its head, to unforgettable effect." —Tor.com

"VanderMeer's writing continues to demonstrate the deceptive lucidity of a fever dream" —The Seattle Times

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: April 25 2017
Page extent: 336 (hc)

World rights (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Film rights (Paramount Pictures and Scott Rudin Productions) 

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.