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Dead Astronauts Reviews

Dead Astronauts by Jeff VanderMeer

Dead Astronauts

Jeff VanderMeer

Score pending

2 reviews

Imprint: MCD
Publisher: MCD
Publication date: 3 Dec 2019
ISBN: 9780374276805

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.

5 stars out of 5
Nina Allan
16 Jan 2020

"...bewildering, perplexing, original – and I would recommend that readers allow it the concentration it demands..."

A genuinely innovative artwork requires time to fulfil its effect. Jeff VanderMeer’s Dead Astronauts is one such work – bewildering, perplexing, original – and I would recommend that readers allow it the concentration it demands... Climate fiction is an important strand in contemporary literature, so much so that in its repeating imagery, its insistent narrative of imminent catastrophe, it may begin to seem over-familiar and thus lose its urgency. As a writer of fantasy, VanderMeer has always eschewed the more derivative aspects of world-building, preferring instead to employ speculative conceits as a means of stretching the envelope of the possible. From his 2014 Southern Reach trilogy onwards, it has become clear there is no subject more important to him than the degrading and disastrous effect of human activity on fragile ecosystems. Employing stylistic and linguistic devices that reach beyond narrative, the author deliberately deconstructs the very concept of familiarity and forces us up against his subject matter in a way that demands we not only engage with it, but recognise its vast importance to our lives and futures.

Reviews

4 stars out of 5
Chelsea Leu
2 Dec 2019

"(a) darkly transcendent novel filled with phantasmagoric visions, body horror and tortured beings traversing a blasted desert hellscape"

...there’s more than a touch of Hieronymus Bosch in this darkly transcendent novel filled with phantasmagoric visions, body horror and tortured beings traversing a blasted desert hellscape. Think “The Last Judgment,” but with more animals.... Amid all its grimness, the novel finds some small redemption in the power of love. But VanderMeer’s brilliant formal tricks make love feel abstract and unconvincing by the end, a flimsy human ideal. Late in the book, the blue fox recalls his capture by the Company, staring into his mate’s eyes as he’s dragged away from her. “The sentimental tale,” he tells us coolly. “The tale you always need to care. Which shows you don’t care. Why we don’t care if you care.” It’s precisely that ferocity that makes “Dead Astronauts” so terrifying and so compelling.