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Entertainment Blue foxes, biotechnic ghosts: Jeff VanderMeer's 'Dead Astronauts' is a deeply weird book

19:55  03 december  2019
19:55  03 december  2019 Source:   usatoday.com

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Jeff VanderMeer ' s Dead Astronauts presents a City with no name of its own where, in the shadow VanderMeer can string words together on a page better than most, but hot damn, this was a total Okay there are a lot of weird things. But none of them can be boiled down to archetypes even as they

Jeff VanderMeer ’ s Dead Astronauts is one such work – bewildering, perplexing, original – and I would recommend that readers allow it the concentration Fans of weird literature are sure to find echoes of Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun, Zachary Jernigan’s underappreciated Jeroun books , even

There’s nothing easy about Jeff VanderMeer’s latest book, "Dead Astronauts" (MCD, 323 pp., ★★½ out of four stars), which is either a prequel or a companion, depending upon how you look at it, to his 2017 novel "Borne." Both take place in the same fictional world: a post-apocalyptic ecological nightmare multiverse of Earth, where an all-powerful Company has littered the City with biotechnic ghosts and lethal fever-dream animals.

a group of colorful flowers: © MCD "Dead Astronauts," by Jeff VanderMeer.

This is a book of giant ducks that cannot be trusted, blue foxes with profound secrets and leviathans with distorted hallucinations for backstories: “Behometh became wraith, became phantom, became a notion and smudge of night…”  If this sounds daunting and possibly confusing, well, it is, and by intention.

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Jeff VanderMeer ’ s new novel, Dead Astronauts , has the feeling of a mosaic. Up close, you can marvel Fans of Vandermeer will notice bits of his older work echoing through Dead Astronauts . Early on, we learn that , of the astronauts , only Grayson is really a human. The fox is a fox , but blue

Dead Astronauts book . Read 743 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. A blue fox , a giant fish and language stretched to the limit. A messianic blue fox who slips through warrens Jeff VanderMeer ' s Dead Astronauts presents a City with no name of its own where, in the shadow

Unlike "Borne," which largely adhered to more common notions of storytelling, "Astronauts" exists in a state that is often beyond language. That might not seem to make a lot of logical sense when you consider that this is a novel we’re talking about, but in fact, as the book goes along, the lack of structural integrity begins to make more sense, not less. The connective tissue of this life has been stripped from the bones. All that’s left is the space between.  

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The astronauts in question pop up early on in "Borne," primarily as creepy window-dressing: “I came to the edge of a courtyard and a peculiar sight. For anywhere but here. Three dead astronauts had fallen to earth and been planted like tulips…” 

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Jeff VanderMeer ’ s New York Times - bestselling Southern Reach trilogy has been translated into over 35 Called “the weird Thoreau” by The New Yorker, VanderMeer frequently speaks about issues Vandermeer is nearly my favorite author, and Bourne - a preceding book in his same world - is a

Dead Astronauts Author Jeff VanderMeer On the Power—and Danger—of Climate Fiction. Dead Astronauts is a prequel of sorts, following those three astronauts as they square off against a Jeff VanderMeer : I think this book is all about systems. With Borne, the prior book set in the same

Here we follow the three – a woman named Grayson, a man named Chen and a woman, sometimes, named Moss. “Moss remained stubbornly uncommitted – to origin, to gender, to genes, went by ‘she’ this time but not others. Moss could change like other people breathed…”

All three astronauts flow along different continuums in this world, both before and after their death. Or deaths. Because the astronauts are both alive and dead all the time, in several different universes, which often overlap and fold onto each other, allowing the three to fight, fall in love and co-exist with each other on different timelines. Schrodinger’s Cat writ into ethereal multiplicity, as it were.

Their mission is to save the world, over and over again, because they can’t stop failing, their failures compounding across time: “Each had had the experience of self-annihilation. Chen had killed Chen. Moss had absorbed Moss. Grayson had killed them both. Moss had killed Chen, Chen Moss. Thus their intimacy had become exponential, along with their sadness and regret.”

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In Jeff VanderMeer ’ s work, nature is often the stuff of nightmares. In his recent novel Dead Astronauts , he describes a duck with a reptilian, serrated smile, its body sometimes covered with a thin, oozing crust of blood.

Jeff VanderMeer ’ s New York Times - bestselling Southern Reach trilogy has been translated into over 35 languages. Called “the weird Thoreau” by The New Yorker, VanderMeer frequently speaks about issues " VanderMeer is a master of literary science fiction, and this may be his best book yet."

If we spent the majority of the book with the astronauts as they plumbed this failed world, the novel might be more easily engaged with, but instead VanderMeer slides around the City and the idea of the City, the future, and the idea of the future, the environment and the idea of the environment, violence and… Well, you get it.

Jeff VanderMeer standing in front of a rock: Author Jeff VanderMeer. © Ditte Valente Author Jeff VanderMeer.

We get poetry, transmissions, shards of memories. We get an entire chapter that consists of two sentences, repeated, for five pages: “They killed me. They brought me back.”  And, too, we get VanderMeer’s beautiful and striking examination of this life, across all the multitudes: “[T]here would come a terrible and obliterating day when beauty was the only thing that mattered, and it mattered little if the pure part of beauty was blood.”   

It’s hard to know what entirely to make of "Dead Astronauts." As an existential pursuit into the notion of time and space, it’s surely mind-bending and VanderMeer never ceases to amaze with his ability to create a world of our own that reeks of our mistakes. And yet, too, it’s hard not to yearn for more narrative coherence, so that VanderMeer’s big ideas don’t get lost to the simple state of confusion.   

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Preview — The Weird by Jeff VanderMeer . Weird and horrific hijinks ensue - this is a great example of a seemingly mundane story slowly and inexorably becoming a weird one.

Jeff VanderMeer ' s Dead Astronauts presents a City with no name of its own where, in the shadow of the all-powerful Company, lives human and otherwise converge in terrifying and miraculous ways. At stake: the fate of the future, the fate of Earth—all the Earths. A messianic blue fox who slips through

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Blue foxes, biotechnic ghosts: Jeff VanderMeer's 'Dead Astronauts' is a deeply weird book

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