I picked up Authority, the second in Jeff VanDermeer’s “Southern Reach” trilogy, a few weeks ago at the library. This one sort of picks up where Annihilation left off, but focuses more on the moribund bureaucracy guarding and studying the mysterious region, and reads a bit like a spy story. The main protagonist is brought in to direct the Southern Reach as an all-around fixer, but he’s more of a hapless pawn in some an inter-agency turf war. Maybe it’s a spy-story trope, but this character reminds me of Milgrim in William Gibson’s novels: the same sort of wistful, daydreaming victim, with the same sort of personal weaknesses and demons, and the same sort of occasional, non-lateral competence. The book is nowhere near as creepy as the first one, but then in the final 50 pages or so it more than makes up the difference.
I also got Persepolis Rising, the latest installment in the “Expanse” series. I am having a bit of trouble getting into this one: compared to “The Southern Reach” it seems prosaic, the language is a bit dull or stilted, and the story, which will no doubt have a lot of plot twists, already seems formulaic. I put this on the back burner for now.
Acceptance — he final book in the “Southern Reach” trilogy — became available just before we went to Durham, and I read it while we were down there. Again, this book was a bit different from the others, in style and in theme, but it picks up where the second left off. There are also a few flashbacks, “explaining” the origins of Area X and the actions of the Southern Reach. Again, super-spooky, and also a great read.
(After having read all three books, I see where some of the things in the movie came from, but it still bugs me how poor the movie was compared to what might have been.)
NEXT UP: We made our traditional visit to The Regulator Bookshop while we were in Durham, and I now have two more books on deck: Ron Chernow’s Grant, and something called The Joy of Mathematics.