One of the movies I’m most looking forward to in 2017 is Alex Garland’s film Annihilation. Based on Jeff Vandermeer’s novel by the same name, it has the potential to be a unique, cerebral science-fiction film. It looks as though Paramount Pictures feels the same way, because the company has snapped up the option for Vandermeer’s next novel, Borne.
Variety reports that Scott Rudin and Eli Bush, who are producing Annihilation, will also produce Borne, which is expected to publish in May 2017. It's about a young woman named Rachel who lives in a near-future city littered with the remnants of a former biotech firm known as the Company. While Rachel is out scavenging, she brings back a green lump called Borne, which begins to "grow and change in unexpected ways."
Vandermeer’s 'Annihilation' and its sequels are extremely good books
This is particularly exciting news: Vandermeer’s Annihilation and its sequels are extremely good books. The first chronicles the story of a team of scientists who enter Area X, part of a coastal region that has been cut off from the rest of the world by a mysterious barrier. Otherworldly things have begun to appear there, and the sequels deepen the mystery behind the region.
Garland’s adaptation of the novel will star Natalie Portman, Gina Rodriguez, and Oscar Isaac, and it's expected to be released sometime in 2017. While there are two books remaining after Annihilation, Garland has noted that he isn't considering adapting the entire Area X series: "I really didn’t think too much about the trilogy side of it." In a film environment that is increasingly obsessed with building out franchises, trilogies, and reboots, it’s a refreshing thing to see this restraint, even though the door is open to a couple of potential sequels down the road. This is excellent news for a film industry that has doubled down on blockbusters like Batman v Superman and Captain America: Civil War.
What’s nice to see here is that Paramount is keenly interested in Vandermeer’s next big novel, chiefly because Vandermeer is a fantastic author. His Area X trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance) might have brought him his highest acclaim thus far, but his earlier novels, such as Shriek and Finch, were also well-liked. The literary world is also excited for Borne: publisher Farrar, Straus, and Giroux bought it for a hefty six figures last year.
Vandermeer’s works are deserving of a wide audience
Like Ted Chiang, whose adaptation Arrival will hit theaters soon, Vandermeer’s works deserve a wide audience. He's keenly aware of genre stylings, and has worked influences from authors such as J.G. Ballard, Jorge Luis Borges, M. John Harrison, and Michael Moorcock into his stories, according to the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. The Area X trilogy feels as though it has drawn in influences from some of the genre’s greatest authors, including H.P. Lovecraft, John Wyndham, and Soviet authors Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. Along with his wife, Ann Vandermeer, he’s helped produce some of the genre’s definitive survey anthologies, such as this summer’s Big Book of Science Fiction and The Weird.
This ultimately translates into an acclaimed body of work that's consistently improving from its already-lofty starting point. As much as I loved Andy Weir’s novel The Martian and its film adaptation, this is an entirely new level of science fiction that deserves to reach a wider audience. There’s been a whole bunch of "cerebral" science fiction movies hitting theaters lately: Garland’s own Ex Machina, and next month’s Arrival. Annihilation looks as though it’s being positioned to fit alongside those films, and hopefully, Borne will as well. Hopefully, Vandermeer’s body of work will demonstrate that high-quality speculative fiction will continue to have a place in cinemas alongside the latest Cinematic Universe offering.