“The tower, which was not supposed to be there, plunges into the earth . . .” so begins Jeff VanderMeer’s intriguing novel, Annihilation.
A biologist and three women are sent to study Area X, a mysterious area devoid of human settlement. The more they explore, the stranger things become.
We studied this book in my Contemporary Dark Fiction class with Richard Thomas, which helped me appreciate the author’s meticulous craft.
- Originally our expedition had numbered five and included a linguist . . .
- At the time, we didn’t think to look for more sets of boot prints.
- Experience told our superiors that few if any of us would be coming back.
- Perhaps my only real expertise, my only talent, is to endure beyond the endurable.
Similarly, foreshadowing provided critical clues to the novel’s climax and conclusion.
- the black water that soaked the cypress trees
- beards of gray moss
- dull, algae-choked lakes
- oases of wind-contorted trees
- shimmering gold-brown of the reeds
- a smell, carrying with it the earthiness of the marsh reeds
- A loamy smell . . . along with an underlying hint of rotting honey
- whitish steps like the spiraling teeth of some unfathomable beast
- gentle sweetness, as of a muted nectar
- the blue-green light…surged out, blinding and bleeding and thick and layered and absorbing
- a crescendo of ice or ice crystals shattering to form an unearthly noise
- A raging waterfall crashed down on my mind, but the waterfall was comprised of fingers.