So, we are four posts away from one-thousand… I feel like the one-thousandth post should be something compelling, something to start kind of a renaissance, a revitalization of the blog. I want to clean the slate, cut loose some mundane things I said I’d write, but haven’t. I mean, who cares that it took me five years and many attempts to finally read Perdido Street Station by China Mieville? It’s a terribly overrated book. Yes, I know it’s heretical not to pleasure whatever part of the body Mieville sees fit, and calling something Mieville wrote overrated is worthy of being hanged in some circles, but I don’t care. I willingly commit both sins. There, I’ve just covered that promised, yet unwritten post. Who needs more? I definitely don’t. With my one-thousandth post, I want to start clean, and write something important, or at the very least, something worth the time it takes for me to write and you to read.
I have some ideas, rather, shadows of ideas that I will make solid in the coming days.
Still, I’m also open to reader suggestions (I know there are at least six of you!), but I only want really ambitious suggestions. No What sorts of movies do you like? suggestions. If you’re going to suggest something, or ask something, dig deep, way down. No topic is off-limits, no question is too personal. Either you’re going to guide my boldness, or I go it alone. It’s the one-thousandth post, it’s going to be something rather than nothing…6 comments
So, I feel bette-ish, better than yesterday, at least. Maybe. I don’t know. I get nervous when tube after tubs goes wrong. Doing a bunch of procedures makes me nervous afterward.
I’ll get over it. There’s really no other choice.
I miss the person who could make it all go away.2 comments
The third emergency trach change in under a month.
I’m scared.4 comments
Monica (not the Monica I pined over) predicted:
OK, I’m game, seeing that the probability of me getting a book is pretty high at the moment:
It turns out that Area X is populated by cats. Really goddamn mean ones.
So, Monica, congratulations!
I’ll try another game next week, I really do want lots of people to have this book.2 comments
So, one evening some time ago I was browsing Amazon, looking for something new to read, something Steampunky, maybe akin to Cherie Priest. This is when the Amazon A.I. suggested, Pilgrim of the Sky by Natania Barron. Immediately I realized, “Holy shit, I know her!” She’s a twitter friend, and I knew she’s a really great writer, but I had no idea she’d actually published a rather unique Steampunk novel. Of course, I bought and loved it.
Well, now Natania is doing something really cool. Every Tuesday and Thursday at 9 pm she’s reading a chapter from Pilgrim of the Sky, from the first to the last, live via Google+, with full replays on her youtube channel. You can catch up on the replays over the weekend, then start watching live. It’s a really imaginative, well-crafted tale of love, loss, and courage with a strong female lead, and Natania’s reading gives it a certain spark.
Aside from its paperback version, Pilgrim of the Sky is also available for Kindle and iBooks. Apart from Natania’s readings, I definitely recommend owning Pilgrim of the Sky in one form or another. It’s totally a page-turner.1 comment
I want to make a quick apology to my subscribers, people who read the blog posts via e-mail. I’ve been publishing with a sickening level of typos. I fix the typos quickly, but that’s of no consequence to e-mail subscribers. The nineteen of you must think I’m addled or careless, or both. I’ll take addled, but I really do care.
I apologize for the errors, they are over and done.3 comments
An unknown biological catastrophe claims a chunk of the world, cuts a clear border between the tainted and the untainted. This tainted place is called Area X, named so by an unnamed government, a government not at all above sacrificing lives to unlock the mystery that is Area X. This government charges a cloak and dagger agency, The Southern Reach, with the handling of Area X, infiltration; training personnel to cross the border and study Area X.
The very first team reported a place once inhabited by people living in modest homes, a lighthouse off the coast, then, somehow, nature took it all back. Life became death, grass, vines, spread over the homes, forests grew thick, marshlands swelled, the people apparently swallowed by nature growing unabated. Loss of life aside, the early reports described Area X as beautiful, peaceful, pure. This picture didn’t last long. Then came the mass suicide of one team, another self-destructed in a hail of gunfire, blasting each other to fleshy mounds of former colleagues. The eleventh expedition came home, only to die of a very rapid terminal cancer. Despite the early reports, Area X is dangerous, its beauty, false. Answers, however, are more important than lives, The Southern Reach is willing to spill as much blood as necessary in order to know what they need to know.
Enter the twelfth team, four women; a surveyor, a psychologist, a biologist, and an anthropologist. Teams are chosen by various statistics, skill-sets and variables known only by The Southern Reach. Team twelve is tasked to study Area X, and each other. Any member who might behave oddly or appear “changed” by Area X is to be shot on sight, lest the mission as a whole be compromised.
The novel is narrated by the biologist, teams leave their names and lives behind. It’s much easier to remain impartial to each other if everything is impersonal. It’s also easier to shoot a “changed” colleague in the face if they don’t have a name, or a story. The biologist is a flawed character, a woman more comfortable around frogs and dragonflies than people and their conversations and desire for closeness. Yet, through her story, her struggles, we do care about this detached woman of science. This is part of VanderMeer’s skill, he makes us care about characters whose general lives are incomprehensible, as there’s always still some relatable spark in them.
Immediately, VanderMeer sets a tone of dread, we’re told early that members of the team will die, one very quickly. From the start, we know the mission is damned, there’s no heroic happy ending. We don’t know the hows, we only know that the biologist is looking back from the ruins of a wrecked ship. We read, desperately at times, because we want to know the hows, and more urgently, the whys. Why does The Southern Reach send people to Area X like cattle to a killing floor? Why is such a beautiful place so full of death? So many whys, but I won’t reveal them here. There’s also a what, a most important what. What ultimately becomes of the biologist? We don’t want Area X to claim her, but there’s a constant fear that in her final sentence, it will.
VanderMeer uses perfect words to paint images of gorgeous landscapes, macabre dark, hidden places, and images of death and decay that will disturb readers long after the final page is turned. His use of descriptive imagery, quick plotting, and rich character development is spot-on, perhaps the best balance he has ever struck.
Annihilation is a short, fast-paced novel that is really the beginning of a much deeper narrative. For those who have never read Jeff VanderMeer this novel is a perfect introduction, and for those who have, his brilliance will only be further demonstrated.
Buy Annihilation, it absolutely won’t disappoint, and I’m sure the rest of the trilogy will be just as spectacular.
Oh, if you hurry, you can win a copy of Annihilation here!No comments
So, maybe I didn’t fully explain my Annihilation Giveaway game fully enough, that, or nobody reads the blog anymore.
If it’s not the latter, then here’s a little clarification of how I want the game to go…
Example: Crazy Annihilation prediction entry:
Annihilation actually takes place underneath the Smurf-blue icing of a sentient cupcake that sits on the desert tray of a South American Despot. The Despot never eats this cupcake, for he knows that it can think, and feel, and love.
So, I’m half-way through Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer, and it’s… amazing. I feel like whatever Jeff writes, it all starts to exist somewhere, another universe, a parallel Earth, somewhere beyond fiction that makes money and entertains us. His writing is something arcane, the pages flicker with that spark of life that goes to coalesce somewhere else to become reality.
I want to make some crazy predictions about Annihilation, but not yet. Not yet. First, I want to have a giveaway!
In this post’s comments section, I want you to write what my most crazy Annihilation prediction might be. My five favorites will win.
Only one entry per person, so make them count.
I’ll announce the winners… Friday at 9 pm.6 comments