Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

★★★☆☆ (3/5)

A selection of my favourite passages from the book

• The beauty of it cannot be understood, either, and when you see beauty in desolation it changes something inside you. Desolation tries to colonize you
• Nothing that lived and breathed was truly objective—even in a vacuum, even if all that possessed the brain was a self-immolating desire for the truth.
• As if somehow the blankness of the walls fed off of silence, and that something might appear in the spaces between our words if we were not careful.
• It was entirely in keeping with his personality to become set on something and follow it, regardless of the consequences. To let an impulse become a compulsion, especially if he thought he was contributing to a cause greater than himself.
• I didn’t cultivate friends, I had just inherited them from my husband.
• As I left the landing, I had the peculiar thought that I was not the first to pocket the photo, that someone would always come behind to replace it, to circle the lighthouse keeper again.
• That’s how the madness of the world tries to colonize you: from the outside in, forcing you to live in its reality.
• Observation had always meant more to me than interaction.
• Cheap motels for vacations by the beach where Mom would cry at the end because we had to go back to the normal strapped-for-cash life, even though we’d never really left it. That sense of impending doom occupying the car.
• Death, as I was beginning to understand it, was not the same thing here as back across the border.
• I felt as if I were stuck between two futures, even though I had already made the decision to live in one of them. Now it was just me.
• All that time, I discovered later from thrash marks in the grass, I wasn’t frozen at all: I was spasming and twitching in the dirt like a worm, some distant part of me still experiencing the agony, trying to die because of it, even though the brightness wouldn’t let that happen.
• The dirt and grit of a city, the unending wakefulness of it, the crowdedness, the constant light obscuring the stars, the omnipresent gasoline fumes, the thousand ways it presaged our destruction … none of these things appealed to me.
• The individual details chronicled by the journals might tell stories of heroism or cowardice, of good decisions and bad decisions, but ultimately they spoke to a kind of inevitability.
• the blue-green light was like nothing I had experienced before. It surged out, blinding and bleeding and thick and layered and absorbing.
• A complex, unique, intricate, awe-inspiring, dangerous organism. It might be inexplicable. It might be beyond the limits of my senses to capture—or my science or my intellect—but I still believed I was in the presence of some kind of living creature, one that practiced mimicry using my own thoughts. For even then, I believed that it might be pulling these different impressions of itself from my mind and projecting them back at me, as a form of camouflage. To thwart the biologist in me, to frustrate the logic left in me.
• What do I believe manifested? Think of it as a thorn, perhaps, a long, thick thorn so large it is buried deep in the side of the world. Injecting itself into the world. Emanating from this giant thorn is an endless, perhaps automatic, need to assimilate and to mimic. Assimilator and assimilated interact through the catalyst of a script of words, which powers the engine of transformation. Perhaps it is a creature living in perfect symbiosis with a host of other creatures.

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