AUTHOR: Jeff VanderMeer
PUBLISHER: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
Welcome to Area X. This exclusion zone along a stretch of coastline is a mysterious place where pristine nature has inexplicably taken over. Here, unruly nature is quarantined. We are joining the twelfth expedition – a biologist, an anthropologist, a surveyor, and a psychologist – on a government mission to explore and chart the mysteries of Area X.
The first book that we will be reading together in the LAX LAB book club is Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation (2014). It is the first book in the author’s Southern Reach Trilogy. Through this atmospheric and unsettling novel, we will be exploring the unknown, the uncanny, our relationship with science, and the mysteries and power of nature. Perhaps some of these themes may take on new meanings in our present moment, also full of unknowns, spaces unsafe, and areas of exclusion. And of nature taking over!
The books we will be exploring together in the LAX LAB book club do not all necessarily fall into the genre of climate fiction. They also include science fiction, speculative fiction, and other works that defy genre. Jeff VanderMeer’s writing certainly touches on multiple genres and often includes environmentalist themes and references to climate change. In this short animated video made by The Atlantic, the author describes his work in connection to climate change and notes that there are always elements of hope in his work as well.
Power of text
Scientific inquiry, and its limitations
Articles and essays
‘The weird Thoreau’
Joshua Rothman, The New Yorker, 14 January 2015
‘Wild goats roam through an empty Welsh town’
Alan Taylor, The Atlantic, 31 March 2020
‘Animals are rewilding our cities. On YouTube, at least’
Helen Macdonald, The New York Times Magazine, 15 April 2020
Another Green World (1975) by Brian Eno
Television and film
Annihilation (2018), written and directed by Alex Garland