Fourth Estate (UK)
|April 24, 2017|
The novel takes place in the future, in the ruins of a nameless city dominated by a giant grizzly bear called "Mord". The perspective character, Rachel, is a scavenger in the city; she collects various genetically-engineered organisms and experiments that were created by "the Company", a biotech firm. One day, while searching in Mord's fur, Rachel discovers a sea anemone-like creature that she names "Borne".
VanderMeer had for a long time considered writing about growing up in the South Pacific, where he lived as a child. One day the image of a sea anemone came to him, along with a hand which he knew belonged to Rachel, that reached out to grab the anemone from the fur of a giant bear. From that image, the rest of the city assembled itself. Mord was influenced by Richard Adams's Shardik, and his never explained ability to fly was inspired by a character in Angela Carter's Nights at the Circus.
The novel was highly praised, with The Guardian saying "VanderMeer’s recent work has been Ovidian in its underpinnings, exploring the radical transformation of life forms and the seams between them." Publishers Weekly said the novel reads "like a dispatch from a world lodged somewhere between science fiction, myth, and a video game" and that with Borne Vandermeer has transformed weird fiction into "weird literature." The New Yorker said the novel plunges the reader "into a primordial realm of myth, fable, and fairy tale." Cameron Laux in the BBC labels it one of the most overlooked recent novels, imagining "an ecological utopia where humans' abusive relationship with nature has ended."
Sequels and possible film
VanderMeer also wrote Dead Astronauts, a stand-alone novel set in the Borne universe which was released on December 3, 2019.
- "Borne by Jeff VanderMeer review – after the biotech apocalypse" by Neel Mukherjee, The Guardian, June 15, 2017.
- "Borne". Goodreads. goodreads.com. Retrieved 20 June 2017.
- Jeff Vandermeer's new dystopian novel 'Borne' is lyrical and harrowing; Elizabeth Hand reviews
- For Florida author Jeff VanderMeer, giant flying bears are all in a day's work
- "Starred review of Borne by Jeff VanderMeer," Publishers Weekly, February 6, 2017.
- "Jeff VanderMeer Amends the Apocalypse" by Laura Miller, The New Yorker, April 24, 2017.
- Laux, Cameron. "The most overlooked recent novels". www.bbc.com. Retrieved 2020-03-13.
- "Four Questions for...Jeff VanderMeer" by John Maher, Publishers Weekly, August 1, 2017.
- "The Strange Bird Enters the World: New Borne Fiction". BORNE CENTRAL. 2017-08-06. Retrieved 2020-03-13.
- "Dead Astronauts by Jeff VanderMeer". Penguin Random House Canada. Retrieved 2019-08-28.
- "Paramount and Scott Rudin Team on Next Novel From ‘Annihilation’ Author (EXCLUSIVE)" by Justin Kroll, Variety, October 18, 2016.