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The Strange Bird: A Borne Story (Kindle Single) Kindle Edition
The Strange Bird—from New York Times bestselling novelist Jeff VanderMeer—is a novella-length digital original that expands and weaves deeply into the world of his “thorough marvel”* of a novel, Borne.
The Strange Bird is a new kind of creature, built in a laboratory—she is part bird, part human, part many other things. But now the lab in which she was created is under siege and the scientists have turned on their animal creations. Flying through tunnels, dodging bullets, and changing her colors and patterning to avoid capture, the Strange Bird manages to escape.
But she cannot just soar in peace above the earth. The sky itself is full of wildlife that rejects her as one of their own, and also full of technology—satellites and drones and other detritus of the human civilization below that has all but destroyed itself. And the farther she flies, the deeper she finds herself in the orbit of the Company, a collapsed biotech firm that has populated the world with experiments both failed and successful that have outlived the corporation itself: a pack of networked foxes, a giant predatory bear. But of the many creatures she encounters with whom she bears some kind of kinship, it is the humans—all of them now simply scrambling to survive—who are the most insidious, who still see her as simply something to possess, to capture, to trade, to exploit. Never to understand, never to welcome home.
With The Strange Bird, Jeff VanderMeer has done more than add another layer, a new chapter, to his celebrated novel Borne. He has created a whole new perspective on the world inhabited by Rachel and Wick, the Magician, Mord, and Borne—a view from above, of course, but also a view from deep inside the mind of a new kind of creature who will fight and suffer and live for the tenuous future of this world.
Praise for Borne
*“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
“VanderMeer is that rare novelist who turns to nonhumans not to make them approximate us as much as possible but to make such approximation impossible. All of this is magnified a hundredfold in Borne . . . Here is the story about biotech that VanderMeer wants to tell, a vision of the nonhuman not as one fixed thing, one fixed destiny, but as either peaceful or catastrophic, by our side or out on a rampage as our behavior dictates—for these are our children, born of us and now to be borne in whatever shape or mess we have created. This coming-of-age story signals that eco-fiction has come of age as well: wilder, more reckless and more breathtaking than previously thought, a wager and a promise that what emerges from the twenty-first century will be as good as any from the twentieth, or the nineteenth.” —Wai Chee Dimock, The New York Times Book Review
Praise for The Strange Bird
"With hallucinatory imagery and expressive prose, this companion novella to Borne is beautiful and bleak, painful and rewarding in equal measure." --Booklist (starred)
"A lyrical if dark-hearted sidenote to VanderMeer’s wonderfully inventive dystopian novel Borne . . . VanderMeer writes circles around most fantasists at work today." --Kirkus
Praise for Borne
“The conceptual elements in VanderMeer’s fiction are so striking that the firmness with which he cinches them to his characters’ lives is often overlooked . . . Borne is VanderMeer’s trans-species rumination on the theme of parenting . . . [Borne] insists that to live in an age of gods and sorcerers is to know that you, a mere person, might be crushed by indifferent forces at a moment’s notice, then quickly forgotten. And that the best thing about human nature might just be its unwillingness to surrender to the worst side of itself.” --Laura Miller, The New Yorker
“Borne, Jeff VanderMeer’s lyrical and harrowing new novel, may be the most beautifully written, and believable, post-apocalyptic tale in recent memory . . . [VanderMeer] outdoes himself in this visionary novel shimmering with as much inventiveness and deliriously unlikely, post-human optimism as Borne himself.” --Elizabeth Hand, Los Angeles Times
“VanderMeer’s apocalyptic vision, with its mix of absurdity, horror, and grace, can’t be mistaken for that of anyone else. Inventive, engrossing, and heartbreaking, Borne finds [VanderMeer] at a high point of creative accomplishment.” --Michael Berry, San Francisco Chronicle
About the Author
- ASIN : B073TSB1TW
- Publisher : MCD x FSG Originals (August 1, 2017)
- Publication date : August 1, 2017
- Language : English
- File size : 3123 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 128 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #190,744 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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That said, this is a beautiful and poetic tragedy that - if you enjoyed Borne - should not be missed. It is a sad story. Painfully so. But like Borne, It raises fascinating and timely questions about the nature of intelligence, technology and ultimately love, when the lines blur between all these things.
I should also add that the mere fact that Mr. VanderMeer chose to write and publish this postlude novella is really cool. In the digital age, writers can actually produce follow-up short-form work like this, and have it be (I hope!) commercially viable. I'm sure so many authors think of something after their book is published that augments the story they just told, in a way that ardent readers will love, and, importantly, can be released shortly after the original work, so it's still fresh on the reader's mind. I hope to see more writers publish works like this, if they feel moved to do so.
In fact, I have a strong suspicion that this was included in Borne but Jeff’s editor probably made him cut it (which would be a shame, if that’s the case, because I do feel as though this story would fit and thus would’ve built up the character of The Magician—which is my only critique for Borne); or it very well could’ve been retrofitted.
Regardless, I’ve never cared so much for a protagonist as in The Strange Bird. It’s truly a powerful, short read that subtly builds the world of Borne. As mentioned earlier—but I’ll make the point clear right now and elaborate further—I only wish VanderMeer would’ve found a way to splice this novella into Borne. The Strange Bird was only very briefly mentioned in Borne—and I feel like it needed to be expanded upon.
fluff read it is not for you. Readers who want to get a sense of the darker directions our mismanagement of the environment and food chain are going to lead us in will relish this. This is not to say there is not redemption to be found within the pages; there is. Even Vandermeer cannot ignore the fact that at our most human- in whatever form that may be; even avian: hope springs eternal. Twisting a well worn phrase to my purpose:
Hope adds life.
It is better to have read "Borne" first as the book does rest firmly on this as a framework. Reading these two have sent me on a quest back to the
short fiction which is also quite wonderful.
Top reviews from other countries
Exquisite heart, exquisite prose. A small masterpiece.
A small miracle of light and joy and pain and, in the end, of love and life.
VanderMeer once again transports us to his dystopian world of "Borne".
Notes and quotes:
And even then she did not know that the sky was blue or what the sun was, because she had flown out into the cool night air and all her wonder resided in the points of light that blazed through the darkness above. But then the joy of flying overtook her and she went higher and higher and higher, and she did not care who saw or what awaited her in the bliss of the free fall and the glide and the limitless expanse. Oh, for if this was life, then she had not yet been alive!
The Strange Bird had perched for safety on a hook near the ceiling and watched, knowing she might be next. The badger that stared up, wishing for wings. The goat. The monkey. She stared back at them and did not look away, because to look away was to be a coward and she was not cowardly. Because she must offer them some comfort, no matter how useless. Everything added to her and everything taken away had led to that moment and from her perch she had radiated love for every animal she could not help, with nothing left over for any human being. Not even in the parts of her that were human.
In the lab, so many of the scientists had said “forgive me” or “I am so sorry” before doing something irrevocable to the animals in their cages. Because they felt they had the right. Because the situation was extreme and the world was dying. So they had gone on doing the same things that had destroyed the world, to save it.
At true north lay the great bear Mord, [the Magician's] mortal enemy for control of the city. At true south lay the Company building, a place that the Strange Bird knew as a kind of laboratory on a scale far outstripping the one from which she had escaped. To the west, the Magician’s regard for her transformed children, her observatory headquarters, while to the east, forever changing in the intensity with which the Magician regarded them, were a scavenger named Rachel and a competitor of the Magician’s named Wick. Rachel worked with or for Wick and Wick made creatures much as the Magician did, and used them to barter for goods.