I read Jeff VanderMeer‘s “Southern Reach Trilogy” with a great deal of enthusiasm. He embodies a dreamy genre of writing that entices my brain to crave more. Each book provides puzzle pieces to an unexplained phenomenon. Each story is part of a transformation, human, female, environment, nature, all interwoven.
Annihilation the first story to the Southern Reach Trilogy was transformed into a film, portrays the shift in emotions while slowly subjecting the audience to the spread of the shimmer. Alex Garland confronts Annihilation with a tone that’s complex and mesmerizing. Downplays the underlying premise, which is men approach a situation in the same predictable way, while women observe, assess, and transform. The shimmer the true hero of the story, is alive, calculating, and patient, using the biologist [Natalie Portman] as the catalyst to successfully terraform. The shimmer doesn’t torture the biologist because she doesn’t resist.
The movie feels a bit like Solaris in some parts, especially when entering Area X, where unexpected feelings are juxtapositioned against beauty and the unknown danger.
Like Garland’s Ex Machina, he uses AI with female qualities. She’s intelligent, cunning, strong, adaptable and wants to survive. He uses a team of smart, adventurous, strong, capable “get shit done” women, to approach the unknown element, which is the shimmer. Previous teams of men failed. The shimmer which embodies feminine qualities, where nature versus nurture, in a battle for existence. The only fault I found in Garland’s interpretation of Annihilation is he gave the characters names, I preferred VanderMeer’s nameless approach as more personal and allowing the reader to become the characters.
Visually, Annihilation [movie] is a dream world that reminds me of the artist Dorothea Tanning, where the dream starts off beautiful and ends in a nightmare that awakens you. I can’t wait to see what Garland does with Jeff VanderMeer’s Authority and Acceptance.