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Authority

by Jeff VanderMeer

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Southern Reach Trilogy (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,6811067,169 (3.61)1 / 95
"In the second volume of the Southern Reach Trilogy, questions are answered, stakes are raised, and mysteries are deepened. In Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer introduced Area X--a remote and lush terrain mysteriously sequestered from civilization. This was the first volume of a projected trilogy; well in advance of publication, translation rights had already sold around the world and a major movie deal had been struck. Just months later, Authority, the second volume, is here. For thirty years, the only human engagement with Area X has taken the form of a series of expeditions monitored by a secret agency called the Southern Reach. After the disastrous twelfth expedition chronicled in Annihilation, the Southern Reach is in disarray, and John Rodriguez, aka "Control," is the team's newly appointed head. From a series of interrogations, a cache of hidden notes, and hours of profoundly troubling video footage, the secrets of Area X begin to reveal themselves--and what they expose pushes Control to confront disturbing truths about both himself and the agency he's promised to serve. And the consequences will spread much further than that. The Southern Reach trilogy will conclude in fall 2014 with Acceptance"--"In the second volume of the Southern Reach trilogy, Area X's most troubling questions are answered... but the answers are far from reassuring"--… (more)
  1. 31
    Solaris by Stanisław Lem (Tuirgin)
    Tuirgin: Despite the concept of Area X being strikingly similar to the Strugatsky's Roadside Picnic, there are also echos of Stanisław Lem's Solaris—the idea of a type of communication so alien to human modes of communication that it can be harmful to us.
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Showing 1-5 of 99 (next | show all)
This is unlike anything you've read lately. Beautifully written, the story is narrated by a female biologist sent into Area X as part of a series of expeditions that have gone terribly and mysteriously wrong. This is a masterwork of an unreliable narrator trying to work her way out of the multiple delusions created by the team's training and then by the mystery that lies at the heart of the book. The start is slow but it really picks up as the mystery is partially revealed. Vandermeer and writes landscape extremely well and it's a character in the book. The character of the biologist is also layered and compelling. Here's a lovely bit of description: Soon after I stood once again on the trail, the brightness usurped many more places than just my nerve centers. I crumpled to the ground cocooned in what felt like an encroaching winter of dark ice, the brightness spreading into a corona of brilliant blue light with a white core. It felt like cigarette burns as a kind of searing snow drifted down and infiltrated my skin. Soon I became so frozen, so utterly numb, trapped there on the trail in my own body, that my eyes became fixed on the thick blades of grass in front of me, my mouth half open in the dirt. There should have been an awareness of comfort at being spared the pain of my wounds, but I was being haunted in my delirium. ( )
  MaximusStripus | Jul 7, 2020 |
In the second book of the Southern Reach trilogy, the biologist has reappeared. But is she really the biologist? Two other members of the 12th expedition have also mysteriously appeared outside of Area X. Since they should be dead, something is clearly amiss. But it’s the biologist who holds the key. And it is John Rodriquez, the newly appointed director of the Southern Reach facility, who is tasked with finding out how to use that key. Since no one in ops uses personal names, John insists that everyone call him “Control”. Did he choose that himself, or was that something his mother, a shadowy figure at Central, or his handler, the Voice, instructed him to do? He’s not sure. But then he’s not really sure of anything. And the level of animosity coming his way from the deputy director and others here is not going to make things easy. Of course the fact that the previous director got herself onto the 12th expedition as “the psychologist” and did not return from Area X may have something to do with it. There are mysteries within mysteries from Southern Reach through to the border, assuming the border is even where it’s supposed to be.

Vandermeer generates impressive levels of paranoia and justified fear in his protagonist, Control. Although initially not as sympathetic a lead character as the biologist in the first volume, Control grows into his role, or out of it as perhaps fits the case. His alignment with whatever is posing as the biologist (she insists that she is not the biologist) is a risk, a gamble that may or may not pay off. Unless his plans get scuppered by the factionalism at Central or he succumbs to the siren call of Area X. Or gives in to terror. Or is that terroir?

There is a great deal at play as Vandermeer expands his world beyond Area X and perhaps too many strands to keep well-ordered. But the pace continues to ratchet up and it would be almost impossible now to not go on and read the final volume of the trilogy.

Anxiously recommended. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Jun 29, 2020 |
This book is really deeply weird and enthralling. I read it quickly because I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I hadn’t planned to read the sequels but now I may not be able to avoid them. ( )
  ryanruppe | Jun 27, 2020 |
Synopsis
Area X is a mysterious location cut off from the rest of the world. A secret organization called the Southern Reach is the only entity that knows something about this Area X if anything. It periodically sends expeditions into Area X with disastrous results. The latest expedition, the twelfth expedition consists of four women - A biologist, an anthropologist, a surveyor, and a psychologist. How successful will this expedition be? Will they find what Area X really is? or will Area X claim them as it did with people from other expeditions, forms the crux of the story.

Ruminations

Ok, I DID know, going into this book, that, this was a strange one. No kidding! Honestly, I cannot elucidate more on the point of reading this book. I did not gain any new story, perspective or information.

I feel like I have no memory of what I knew before reading this book and what I learned after reading this book. There's nothing in between, no change before and after reading this book.

Every book is an experience. Even a thrashy romance novel gives us experience. What exactly did this book give? Honestly, I have no clue. I read it for the sake of reading it and strangely enough, I didn't want to DNF it. Does that say something about me or the book?

I really want to talk to people who liked or disliked this book. Because as I said, I didn't feel a thing. The first book that made me feel a sense of detachment was this. I could honestly not feel any emotions. Even boredom felt like an emotion wasted on this book.

For starters, there is not much of a story. Most of the book felt like a philosophical rambling of a broken, seriously delusional and damaged mind.

Guess that's the thin line between an enlightened being and the delusional ones. People who come in contact with them most certainly think of them as crazy.

I am from India so philosophical, deep ramblings are nothing new to me. Even an average person has this sense of real & unreal. Illusion and reality. People are aware of these concepts. But this book felt incomplete and seeking in every sense.

It looked like the Author turned his personal diary into a novel. Like I got a discrete look into somebody's seeking. It was jarring, unreal and honestly, I felt like a person who got caught reading somebody's diary. What do you do if you do read a person's diary? I probably might ignore it and that's what I am going to do with this book and it's contents. I have no idea what else to do with it. I have no way of compartmentalizing this book into the obvious shelves of my mind. So I dump it in a corner and hope to forget it over time.

Sometimes people write books for the sake of sounding deep with not much value addition. I couldn't place the genre of the book nor its intent. The only word I can commit to this book is: Strange. This book was strange. Neither was it useful nor useless. Neither was it filled with information nor devoid of it. Neither was it entertaining nor unentertaining. It was a book that could have very well existed and not existed. It wouldn't have made a difference either way.

Would I recommend this book? Yes and No. Yes, if you want to get your brain jerked off from your usual routine and dropped off into an alternate crazy universe for a few hours. Read it to experience the state of not understanding and understanding at the same time.

I confer that writing a book that balances the dualities delicately is an art but I am not mature or intelligent enough to comment on if this author has done that.

I do consume my share of "strange/weird" fiction/non-fiction books, but I guess I too have my limits. This book was one such. It was not too much in any sense but I felt like it didn't serve me any purpose at any level, be it at an intellectual/emotional/spiritual level. I didn't even get a simple sense of fulfillment that you might get reading, say, a chick-lit or a cool high fantasy.

I liked the font & size, it made reading so effortless and easy. The language too was quite unassuming and it let me focus on the plot and story instead of on the writing &/or its flaws. The description of the scenes was too good, they were quite visual and I was instantly transported to whatever hell/heaven he was describing.

There was a feeling of hopelessness, not fear, not terror, but a feeling of hopelessness throughout the book.

I liked the way the protagonist saw and observed the habitats. The belief that there are multiple universes gained some validity here. For the organisms living in the habitat that's their universe, a universe within a universe. Your universe is only as much as your awareness stretches isn't it? That was profound and I loved reading about it.

This book is the first book of the Southern Reach series and I am not sure if I'll continue with the series. I Will let you know if I do.

Conclusion
Read it if you want to mess with your brain and perception a bit, not much, but a little. It might not give you the satisfaction of reading a good story or of learning more about characters and their idiosyncrasies. But, you may experience a different kind of world and you may experience a sense of hopelessness and pointlessness like never before. This is most certainly a different read. Give it a try if such books are your cup of chai.

Review, recommendation, and rating
It is a Freebie-grade book, a book worth reading if you receive it as a freebie, giveaway or as a gift.

( )
  rrkreads | Jun 15, 2020 |
The premise of this book is cool, some weird, mystical landscape stuck in the our world. I had two issues with the book. Some of the prose was too abstract, too cryptic. I would have liked a more direct story, rather than descriptive, flowery prose. The main character was also an enigma. It didn't seem like she had any grounding, changing throughout the book to fit some narrative. It was just hard to connect to her as a real person. I'm left wanting to know what happens next in the series, but I don't think I could read through another book like this one. ( )
  aarondesk | May 27, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 99 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jeff VanderMeerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Aaltonen, EinariTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Blomeyer, MarionCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kellner, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nyquist, EricCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pinchot, BronsonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Strick, CharlotteCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In Control's dreams it is early morning, the sky deep blue with just a twinge of light.
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