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Dead Astronauts: A Novel Paperback – December 1, 2020
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A 2020 LOCUS AWARD FINALIST
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 warrens of time and space on a mysterious mission. A homeless woman haunted by a demon who finds the key to all things in a strange journal. A giant leviathan of a fish, centuries old, who hides a secret, remembering a past that may not be its own. Three ragtag rebels waging an endless war for the fate of the world against an all-powerful corporation. A raving madman who wanders the desert lost in the past, haunted by his own creation: an invisible monster whose name he has forgotten and whose purpose remains hidden.
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Praise for Dead Astronauts
"[A] darkly transcendent novel filled with phantasmagoric visions, body horror and tortured beings traversing a blasted desert hellscape . . . terrifying and so compelling."
―CHELSEA LEU, The New York Times Book Review
"A Mobius strip of a novel, with each chapter containing worlds upon nested worlds, all of them dreamlike and dark. In this shattered landscape, VanderMeer explores urgent ideas about capitalism, greed, and natural destruction."
―ADRIENNE WESTENFELD, Esquire
"VanderMeer is a master of literary science fiction, and this may be his best book yet."
―Kirkus (starred review)
"For any adventurous fan of sci-fi, fantasy, and/or horror, this book offers not only a rewarding read but, like, a thing to possess."
―ROBIN SLOAN, author of Sourdough
Praise for Jeff VanderMeer
“Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy was an ever-creeping map of the apocalypse; with Borne he continues his investigation into the malevolent grace of the world, and it’s a thorough marvel.”
―COLSON WHITEHEAD, author of Nickel Boys
“Creepy and fascinating.”
―STEPHEN KING, on The Southern Reach Trilogy
“[Jeff VanderMeer] makes the horrific beautiful.”
―NISI SHAWL, The Seattle Times, on Annihilation
“Unsettling and un-put-down-able―like an old-fashioned adventure story, only weirder, beautifully written and not at all old-fashioned.”
―KAREN JOY FOWLER, BookPage, on Annihilation
“More than just a horror novel; there’s something Poe-like in this tightening, increasingly paranoid focus. But where Poe kept his most vicious blows relatively oblique, VanderMeer drives them deep―albeit in a corkscrewing way that is not less cruel and exquisite.”
―N.K. JEMISIN, The New York Times Book Review, on Authority
About the Author
- Publisher : Picador (December 1, 2020)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1250758211
- ISBN-13 : 978-1250758217
- Item Weight : 9 ounces
- Dimensions : 5 x 1.15 x 7.45 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #104,896 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on August 11, 2021
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I had an eerie feeling that the entire book was a put on. A $25.00 practical al joke with no punchline. Got through it barely. Avoid this one. It's really that bad.
But this book took ages for me to read because I could not bring myself to be interested in it.
The book stretches Jeff’s novelty in writing. It is (mostly) written in the style of trying to verbalize the thoughts of fabricated biological creatures, none of which were well treated by their maker at the Company. In fact, some were brutally treated.
Jeff, as his starting thesis for the book, must have said to himself “Can I demonstrate what the creatures of Bourne’s world’s Company would be like if I could get inside of those which have been coldly made, killed, remade, experimented-on, killed, re-made, and on and on in cycles? What would those creatures be? What would their minds conjure? What about those who did not live by our current ethical positions relative to biological life, and who assumed lifting things were nothing more than biological parts & fasteners that animated. Let’s assume they are all insane. How do I capture that?”
And in Jeff’s hands, these creatures are indeed insane. And, their thoughts are insane. I mean “Insane” in the formal, not casual usage. The latter 2/3 of the book is gradually a long descent into strung together dream-style, barely coherent, tenuously related phrases.
In the end, I simply did not find this thesis enjoyable. It waded up too much insanity, not enough story. (There *was* story if you were patient, stuck to the slog, and pulled it out of incoherency.) And, frankly, it was so dark (mentally) that I started skimming sections. I simply didn’t want to bathe in that state of mind for so long, lest it affect me.
I *will* say that I think the book is an extraordinary, and brilliant work. The state of mind Jeff must have had to go to in order to write this is an immense achievement. His ability to fabricate a staggering amount of this kind of material reflects him at the top of any author’s game. It is mind-blowing.
Yet, it becomes more of an exercise of sheer ability, and less a book even this dedicated Vandermeer reader can find enjoyable.
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Reviewed in Canada on February 21, 2021