Alex Garland May Direct Adaptation of Nebula Award-Nominated Novel 'Annihilation'

Thursday, 07 May 2015 - 10:12AM
Sci-Fi Books
Thursday, 07 May 2015 - 10:12AM
Alex Garland May Direct Adaptation of Nebula Award-Nominated Novel 'Annihilation'
Fresh off of the surprise success of Ex Machina, 28 Days Later writer Alex Garland is eyeing another unsettling sci-fi venture, in the form of an adaptation of Jeff Vandermeer's eerie apocalyptic fable Annihilation.

"This group of women enter a sealed park to see what is going on inside, and it becomes this surreal sci-fi story, that reminded me of this J.G. Ballard sub-genre I had grown up reading," said Garland of the plot of Annihilation, before going on to confirm that he's circling the project. "We are literally in the process of setting it up, it's definitely spinning in the air at the moment."

I wouldn't necessarily call it a "park," it's more of a quarantined area, but other than that his description is accurate. Here's the official synopsis of the novel:


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.

Annihilation is the first book in a trilogy, called the Southern Reach series, followed by Authority and Acceptance, both of which were released later in 2014. It has received mostly positive reviews, snagging a nomination at the 2015 Nebula Awards.

Having read the book, I think Garland is a great pick. Not only is he generally talented, but Ex Machina demonstrated his ability to craft a slow-burning sci-fi horror. Ex Machina wasn't without its problems, but the building of suspense and the atmospheric tension were note-perfect, which is one of the most important parts of a story like Annihilation.

The only disappointing part of this news may be that it confirms there will be no sequel for Ex Machina (although that may be a blessing in disguise, as it was a fairly self-contained narrative). "I imagined it as a completely self-contained story and I still feel that way about it," Garland told Deadline. "It has become reflexive for people to imagine this movie was made to set up a sequel and that the plan was built into the structure of the film. But it was not that way, at all."

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