Far Horizons: Tales of Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror. Issue #13 April 2015 - Page 67

In the aftermath of the 12th expedition we follow “Control” the nom de guerre of the new director of the Southern Reach. Some of the questions in the first book are answered but many mysteries remain, are deepened in fact. This is different in tone and style and yet the two books are so inextricably linked that whilst reading this volume I had to several times resist the urge to go back and re-read Annihilation. When I have completed all three books I can imagine re-reading all three as a “whole”. I won’t go into the plot - that’s a doorway you’ll have to cross by yourself. This is less dream-like (although relies, in part, on dreams to build the experience) and less pared down than Annihilation but feels like a layering on of information, themes, character, plot, sense of place, and, to use a term from the book (and the wine world), terroir. It is a deeply sensuous experience that I gorged myself upon. Another reason to re-read once all three have been ravenously consumed will be to take it slower and appreciate the craft. For to be sure there is much craft in these books to admire. Comparisons are useless, this is idiosyncratic and it is obvious that much thought and care has been put into this as a book, as the second in a trilogy, as a bridge, as a complex exploration of transformation and immersion. Everything becomes significant, it is like being indoctrinated by a conspiracy theorist. It is both a reflection and an intermingling with the first book. Themes are re-explored, re-examined, deepened. Throughout, as per the word Annihilation in the first book, I was considering – what is authority? what is control? There is a Russian doll feel to it. Turn over a phrase and find a concept which when considered is but a layer of a greater theme which in turn is reflected in character development, or description, or dialogue. Throughout is a key uncertainty, which in itself is another theme – surface detail is a concealment, an obfuscation of the truth, or is it? Adding to this is the very form of the story. Presented in a paranoid spy thriller atmosphere as organisational politics meets intelligence meets counter-intelligence. Power struggles, suspicions, revelations, tug-of-war manoeuvres and the use of hypnosis (itself a recurrence of something explored in Annihilation) conspire to keep you immersed and engaged. VanderMeer has parcelled out information, seemingly generously (in comparison to Annihilation) and yet the mystery remains and is, if anything, deeper following this book. At the end of Annihilation I wanted answers and yet wasn’t sure I’d like what the answers were and was simultaneously eager and afraid of reading the next book. At the end of Authority I wanted the next book to be there to hand, to tear straight into, the level of suspense and anticipation has been built to fever pitch. Overall – This is a book and a series that deserves all the praise. I expect prizes in the future. Acceptance As this is the third book in the series if you’ve not read the previous two you must do so. Acceptance entwines several narratives from both the past and the present, as we understand it from the previous books. It is worth noting at the outset that although there are revelations and answers there is also still much mystery and those seeking an explanation for all that has gone before may be somewhat disappointed. But then if you’ve got this far you’re not really seeking an explanation are you? You’re revelling in the experience and frolicking with the ideas. Surely. Acceptance is non-linear and jumps chapter by chapter between the Lighthouse Keeper (yes that lighthouse keeper! Control, Ghost Bird and th R7