Monday, July 6, 2015

Staff Picks

Jeff VanderMeer’s spooky Southern Reach Trilogy imitates life in all of its imperfections -- and far supersedes it on the weirdness scale.

A poorly managed agency staffed by competitive and neurotic government researchers oversees the marginally effective border between a small coastal community in Florida and a mysterious wilderness called Area X.

Got that?

Slightly more simply stated, Area X is an ecological anomaly that sprung dramatically into existence off the Florida coast decades ago and has been covered up by the government ever since.

Modern technology fails inside borders that must be unconsciously traversed. Doomed expedition members record sightings of extinct species and other mysteries in handwritten journals that are rarely recovered. Descriptions of things as basic as the terrain and simple structures vary wildly in their reports.

Despite the dangers, the Southern Reach Project that oversees the expeditions finds no shortage of volunteers for ventures into the unknown.  (It’s a well guarded secret that scouting parties rarely return. The few who do are in no condition for explanations.)

Fans of ABC’s Lost will appreciate the complexity of this story and the illuminating flashbacks that provide rival viewpoints.  

The Southern Reach Trilogy can be read in a single edition under the title Area X or a three-volume set:  Annihilation, Authority and Acceptance.  In any sequence every chapter poses tantalizing questions and offers wild revelations. It's a perfect summer read for immersing yourself in a very weird new world.

Alicia Cavitt
Information Specialist