How Annihilation author Jeff VanderMeer became king of the ‘New Weird’

Natalie Portman and Tessa Thompson in Annihilation. (Peter Mountain/Paramount Pictures/Skydance)

There’s always an element of chance in a pop culture moment, when something moves from cult appeal to mass attraction. But the backstory of how Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach series became a bestselling trilogy and a Hollywood film has more seemingly random aspects than most. Take the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and VanderMeer’s love for St. Marks National...

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