The most historic invention ever created lies in secret beneath a nuclear plant in Waxahachie, Texas. It opens a door to a dimension not constrained by the known limits of space and time. Rather than for noble scientific discovery, however, AlphaGroup's ruthless CEO, Johnson Dravek, is using the machine in pursuit of ultimate power.
Sam Webb is Dravek's ripper, the traveler inside the machine. His job is simple—to make money for the company by orchestrating "forwards,” business deals designed to cash in on events that have already come to pass. Each time he does his job, however, history is altered and lives are destroyed. He copes by drinking.
While carrying out his latest assignment to exploit the housing market crash of 2007, Webb begins uncovering the truth of Dravek's master plan and how he really controls his sweeping empire. With the help of Marcus Planck, a brilliant physicist and inventor, Webb devises a plan to take down Dravek by using the machine against him. From 2131 to 1980, he leaps through time, striking deals at precise moments in order to bankrupt AlphaGroup and salvage whatever future may be left. The deeper he gets, the more corruption he unearths, including deceit, theft, and murder.
Along the way, as each rip through time takes an ever-greater toll on his body and mind, Webb must face the repercussions of his own choices, including the impact they've had on the people he cares about most. But even he can't foresee just how important his past is to the future, and finding out who he really is may be the end of it all.
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.