Reading: Annihilation by Jeff Vandemeer

I did give up on The Goldfinch. And lately, there has been much a feeling of being unhinged, not crazy unhinged (!), but more of being neither here nor there. And the weather is not helping. It has been raining a lot lately which I think is normal for spring, but it has been raining more than usual in the eight years that I have been living in New Zealand. 

I close my eyes and it sounds like I'm back home, in June. But I guess rain would sound the same anywhere, more so if you close your eyes. But it has been unnerving being woken up in the middle of the night by rain and lying there in that state of half-consciousness uncertain of where you are.

It's usually during these moods that I drift towards science-fiction which is apt. One hopes that science can explain the unexplainable but it can't and that's not the point of science-fiction anyway as I see it. The point I think is that we head towards the inevitable whatever that may be and that science is only one of many things we have at our disposal to make sure that there's a positive outcome. If not, then at least, it would help us understand because the worst fate of all is falling into oblivion completely clueless.

After about 2 hours last night, I'm a quarter of the way into the book which is a good thing; I'm going to finish this one. To save myself the trouble of doing a summary, here's what the book is all about courtesy of Wikipedia:

Annihilation is a 2014 novel by Jeff VanderMeer. It is the first in a series of three books called the Southern Reach Trilogy. The book describes a team of four (a biologist, an anthropologist, a psychologist, and a surveyor) who set out into an area known as Area X. The area is abandoned and cut off from the rest of civilization.[1] They are the 12th expedition. The other expeditions have been fraught with disappearances, suicides, aggressive cancers, and mental trauma. The novel won the 2014 Nebula Award for Best Novel[2] and the 2014 Shirley Jackson Award for best novel (Wikipedia).

First impressions: it reads like Kazuo Ishiguro's The Buried Giant

Where I heard about the book from: WIRED magazine's Book Club

What made me get the book: Choosing books is a hit and miss and reviews don't necessarily guarantee that you'll end up liking what you've picked. Been peckish for some science-fiction and while Wired magazine has recommended complete clunkers in the past (like Carpathia and Abe Lincoln the Vampire Hunter) what caught my attention about the book was that the author published all three books in one year. Sort of like a novel binge-reading.

The novel's writer Jeff Vandermeer writes about this publishing experiment, a backgrounder on how the trilogy started and on the writing process in a piece for The Atlantic:

I. Annihilation

March 2012. I’m driving down to Orlando for a conference on the fantastic in the arts. My wife, Ann, is in the passenger seat, reading the manuscript of my new novel, Annihilation. I’m nervous as hell and finding it hard to concentrate on the highway—that boring part of I-75 that serves as a gullet down toward the artificial guts of Disney World. What the hell have I written? The book is about a dysfunctional secret agency called Southern Reach and its efforts to solve the mysteries behind Area X, a strange pristine wilderness. For 30 years, Area X has been closed off from the rest of the world by an invisible border and peculiar things are happening inside. Most expeditions meet with disaster.

As I wait for Ann’s verdict, I’m filled with doubts. Maybe the book is just an aimless ramble about four women wandering a facsimile of the 14-mile trail I hike out at St. Marks Wildlife Refuge, complete with abandoned lighthouse. Maybe this isn’t the first thing to show my new agent, Sally Harding. Maybe my first novel in four years should be something else. Maybe I should just concentrate on my driving.