Set in the universe introduced in Borne, Dead Astronauts begins with an army of three who are determined to save the world from the Company. Begins, however, may not be the right word because time, in this book, has little meaning. Not only do the “astronauts” exist outside of—or possibly within any—time or place, the book itself is told out of sequence.
Jeff VanderMeer shifts perspective often, from a homeless woman who finds the journal of a mad scientist who works for the Company to the mad scientist himself. The creatures of the Company’s seemingly purposeless experiments, too, get voices, from the Behemoth living in one of the Company’s holding ponds to the murderous duck with a broken wing and the wise Blue Fox.
While I’m not quite sure I understand Dead Astronauts (in fact, I’m sure I don’t completely), I know that liked reading this postmodern novel. Some passages are so beautiful, I had tears in my eyes and some had me nodding my head in agreement—particularly when the Blue Fox discusses human’s hypocrisy when it comes to our attitudes versus actions in terms of the environment. I was (and am) ready to give up the earth to the Blue Fox, who I’m sure would be a better steward even though he might eat me for dinner.
Obviously, though, this book is not going to be for everyone, but readers who enjoy challenging, experimental novels or climate fiction should without a doubt add this to their reading list.
A side note: while this is set in the Borne universe, it is not a sequel, nor is it necessary to have read Borne to understand Dead Astronauts.
A minimum of 20% of royalties from Dead Astronauts will be donated to The Center for Biological Diversity, The Friends of the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge, and other environmental organizations because Jeff VanderMeer is the bomb.
Thank you to Edelweiss and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for providing an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review.