Louis Shalako began writing for community newspapers and industrial magazines His stories appear in publications including Perihelion Science Fiction, Bewildering Stories, Aurora Wolf, Ennea, Wonderwaan, Algernon, Nova Fantasia, and Danse Macabre. He lives in southern Ontario and writes full time.
Watching with a baleful eye
A black scavenger,
Sentinel of the sky
Looking for a weakness,
Looking for a chance
Looking for an error,
Young lovers, caught up in the dance
With a shriek and a pounce,
He seizes on his prey
And another newborn baby
Is safely stole away
Lurking in the darkness
Clutching a branch so cold
Raven has the desperation of youth
And the sour wisdom of the old
In spite of all the raucous noise
In the end he is alone
And when I look out through his eyes
I can see why he is so bold
For the world is a big and empty place
And the nights get very cold.
Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide; the third expedition in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.
The group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain, record all observations of their surroundings and of one another, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.
They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it's the surprises that came across the border with them and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another that change everything.
The Great Khan, Jumalak of the Horde, leads a victorious army which must be fed and which might be dangerous to disband. His navy has doubled in size in two or three short years. His neighbours, including King Lowren of Lemnia and Eleanora, Queen of Windermere, can see which way the wind is blowing. In the coming conflict it will not be possible to remain neutral. The big question is which way to jump, in this action-packed and romantic tale of an alternate universe.