VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Series Heading To Film?
by James Oliver
Yesterday, Deadline Hollywood announced that Paramount purchased the film rights to Jeff VanderMeer’s upcoming Southern Reach series, angering a couple of people who remember when Farrar Straus & Giroux published real literature instead of this genre ghetto bullshit and causing the rest of us to let out a small cry of joy. Standard operating procedure for optimism and optioned rights is now in effect, of course, but I hope to be sitting in a theater watching Annihilation sometime in the next few years.
The article goes on to describe the novel:
Slated to be published early next year, Annihilation tells the story of a biologist who, in seeking answers to her husband’s tragic disappearance, volunteers for an expedition into an area sealed off by the government for the last 30 years as an environmental disaster zone. A secret agency known as the Southern Reach has sent in 11 expeditions over those years to discover the truth about Area X, and those attempts were failures. The tale is narrated by the biologist attached to the mission. She and her team find a pristine wilderness, but they also notice quickly that the rules of nature and evolution seem to work a little differently. And the creature they find is dangerous.
For thirty years, Area X has remained mysterious, remote, and concealed by the government as an environmental disaster zone even though it is to all appearances pristine wilderness. For thirty years, too, the secret agency known as the Southern Reach has monitored Area X and sent in expeditions to try to discover the truth. Some expeditions have suffered terrible consequences. Others have reported nothing out of the ordinary. Now, as Area X seems to be changing and perhaps expanding, the next expedition will attempt to succeed where all others have failed. What is happening in Area X? What is the true nature of the invisible border that surrounds it?
Annihilation tells the story of the twelfth expedition through the narration of a nameless biologist attached to the mission. A reticent, solitary woman, the biologist brings her own personal secrets with her. She is accompanied by a psychologist, anthropologist, and surveyor, their stated mission to chart the wilderness, take samples, and expand the Southern Reach’s understanding of Area X.
But they soon find out that the information given to them about Area X is incomplete or inaccurate, and that they are being manipulated by forces both strange and all too familiar. The old abandoned lighthouse on the coast is more than it seems. A moaning in the distance at dusk appears to have no natural cause. A tunnel plunging into the ground isn’t on any map.
In Area X, they will all find out what it truly means to face the unknown. Adapt or die.
Kevin Woods also suggests that the Southern Reach series “sounds just like the shot in the arse Hollywood has been needing in terms of adaptations to cater to a genre audience” and I can’t help but agree. Here’s hoping that the film makes it through and does well and we see more from the series and more from VanderMeer. I don’t know you, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Ambergris on the big screen.