Review: Annihilation

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book reminds me of my two favorite science fiction films: STALKER and SOLARIS. STALKER – because Area X was produced by an unknown Event creating a dangerous region, like the Zone, where ordinary reality’s expectations and laws are flouted in unpredictable ways, perhaps due to the action of alien beings or artefacts. SOLARIS – because there seems to be a vast entity that may be experimenting on us or perhaps trying to communicate with us by incomprehensible means, including the creation of replicas with incomplete versions of the memories of the originals. Despite the constant sense of danger and the eerie deaths I did not feel that this book was a tale of Horror, even if the characters may have experienced horror. This is a different thing from us experiencing horror in reading it, which does happen but is not the dominant mood or emotion for me. What dominates is rather estrangement (Area X does not play by the same rules as ordinary reality), ontological and not just epistemological uncertainty (we do not know what is happening, but identities themselves become dubious constructs), and wonder (there is at least as much of the wondrous as of the horrifying).

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