TOD 037 ANNIHILATION: An Expedition Into Area X

In this podcast The Outer Dark presents an all-female expedition to Area X to explore the movie and novel of Annihilation led by Molly Tanzer and featuring Danaan DeNeveFiona Maeve Geist, Jackie Shay, and Wendy N. Wagner. Plus a special guest interview with author Jeff VanderMeer.

Show Notes

The Outer Dark goes behind the lens of the movie Annihilation with an all-female expedition into Area X led by “psychologist” and writer Molly Tanzer (Creatures of Will and Temper) and featuring mammalian carnivore evolutionary ecologist Danaan DeNeve (University of California-Merced), writer/editor Fiona Maeve Geist, fungal evolutionary biologist Jackie Shay (University of California-Merced),  and writer/editor Wendy N. Wagner (An Oath of Dogs). The panelists begin with their discovery and first impressions of Annihilation, the novel by Jeff VanderMeer, the first part of the Southern Reach Trilogy (with Authority and Acceptance).  Discussion then turns to director Alex Garland ‘s movie rendition and how it compares and contrasts with the book, including capturing the inherent Weirdness of nature, the wish-fulfillment of an all-woman scientist dream team, visuals and characterization as they relate to strengths of the film versus the book, landscapes full of strange beauty and biological subtlety, slow vs. rapid building of dread, the presence/absence of the Crawler, and contrasts in prose and cinematic approaches to cosmic horror.  The expedition also explores the ecological and climate change elements in the book and film including the nonjudgemental nature of ‘nature’, the resiliency of life forms , the limited understanding of human beings as to what constitutes ‘life’,  fungal life specifically, ‘sense of wonder’ and ecosystem as philosophy,  and the problematic dichotomy of ‘Man vs Nature’. Finally the expedition poses questions to Jeff VanderMeer. 

Special Guest Jeff VanderMeer

(01:18:33) Annihilation author Jeff VanderMeer joins The Outer Dark host Scott Nicolay to answer the expedition’s burning questions! Plus his own surreal experience of seeing his fiction translated to film, hyperobjects, storytelling and process, a bit about his most recent novel Borne, mentions of future work, giving forward, a personal debt to Michael Moorcock, and some writers and works he is currently enjoying.

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Additional Links

‘From Annihilation to Acceptance: A Writer’s Surreal Journey’ by Jeff VanderMeer (The Atlantic)

TOD 011 Jeff VanderMeer: Some of the Creatures That We Met Along the Way

‘A Conversation Between Jeff VanderMeer andTimothy Morton’ (LA Review of Books)

Moby-Dick in the Desert: A Review of Imperial by William T. Vollman (New York Books)

‘This World is Full of Monsters’ by Jeff VanderMeer (

If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino (NY Review of Books)

‘Why I am Not a Painter’ by Frank O’Hara

Shared Worlds Camp

Rachel Kushner

An excerpt from Zolitude by Paige Cooper 

Sabrina Orah Mark (Wild Milk)

Carceral Capitalism by Jackie Wang 

Tale of the Blue Bird by Nii Ayikwei Parkes (The Independent)

African Psycho by Alain Mabanckou

Show Credits

Host/Executive Producer: Scott Nicolay

Co-Host, News From the Weird: Justin Steele

Associate Producer/Show Notes: Anya Martin

Logo Design: Nick “The Hat” Gucker

Music: Michael Griffin

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