Authority is the second novel in Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy. It picks up from the events of the first novel with the survivors of that expedition having made their way back without knowing how and remembering little if anything of what happened while they were there.
This new instalment is told through the perspective of Control, the new leader of the team of scientists who monitor the Southern Reach and who send each expedition in and try to deal with the aftermath. Control wants answers, but is himself apparently thwarted at every turn by his second in command and becomes dangerously obsessed.
Why did I want to read this?
I really loved the first volume, Annihilation, which I devoured and wrote about here. I pre-ordered this as soon as I finished the first and I’m anxious to get my hands on the final volume when it comes out later this year.
What did I think of it?
I just thought it was all wonderful stuff. The change of perspective was unexpected but just as compelling as the events in the first novel. It’s not really a fair or accurate comparison, but while I was reading it in my head I had the feeling that if Annihilation was Alien then Authority is Aliens and that has kind of stuck with me as a reference.
I loved the fact that we were seeing quite extraordinary events from the the other side of the fence (almost literally) with office politics and alliances and secrets and behind-the-scenes machinations all getting in the way of Control figuring out what’s going on.
I really liked the fact that his predecessor had actually broken protocol and led the ill-fated (as they all are) 12th expedition, which gives the events of the first book a really different slant (and guarantees a re-read). The sense of dread, the unsettling feeling, the paranoia all carried through to Authority, and once again I read this in virtually a single chunk, I was so keen to find out what revelations were in store. And we did get some revelations, though as with all of these things we may have been given some answers but there are still a lot of questions tantalisingly hanging there.
I have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen next, but I can hardly wait to find out!