Borne (novel)

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Borne (book cover).jpg
First edition (US)
AuthorJeff VanderMeer
CountryUnited States
GenreScience fiction
PublisherMCD/FSG (US)
Fourth Estate (UK)
Publication date
April 24, 2017
Media typePrint
Pages336 pp

Borne is a 2017 novel by American writer Jeff VanderMeer. It concerns a post-apocalyptic city setting overrun by biotechnology.[1][2]


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".[3]


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.[4]


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."[1] 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."[5] The New Yorker said the novel plunges the reader "into a primordial realm of myth, fable, and fairy tale."[6] 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."[7]

Sequels and possible film[edit]

In August 2017 VanderMeer released the novella The Strange Bird: A Borne Story.[8] The stand-alone story is set in the same world as Borne but features different characters.[9]

VanderMeer also wrote Dead Astronauts, a stand-alone novel set in the Borne universe which was released on December 3, 2019.[10]

Paramount Pictures has optioned the film rights to Borne.[11]


  1. ^ a b "Borne by Jeff VanderMeer review – after the biotech apocalypse" by Neel Mukherjee, The Guardian, June 15, 2017.
  2. ^ "Borne". Goodreads. Retrieved 20 June 2017.
  3. ^ Jeff Vandermeer's new dystopian novel 'Borne' is lyrical and harrowing; Elizabeth Hand reviews
  4. ^ For Florida author Jeff VanderMeer, giant flying bears are all in a day's work
  5. ^ "Starred review of Borne by Jeff VanderMeer," Publishers Weekly, February 6, 2017.
  6. ^ Miller, Laura (April 24, 2017). "A little stranger : Jeff VanderMeer's postapocalyptic Borne". The Critics. Books. The New Yorker. 93 (10): 96–97. Note that the online version is titled "Jeff VanderMeer amends the apocalypse".
  7. ^ Laux, Cameron. "The most overlooked recent novels". Retrieved 2020-03-13.
  8. ^ "Four Questions for...Jeff VanderMeer" by John Maher, Publishers Weekly, August 1, 2017.
  9. ^ "The Strange Bird Enters the World: New Borne Fiction". BORNE CENTRAL. 2017-08-06. Retrieved 2020-03-13.
  10. ^ "Dead Astronauts by Jeff VanderMeer". Penguin Random House Canada. Retrieved 2019-08-28.
  11. ^ "Paramount and Scott Rudin Team on Next Novel From ‘Annihilation’ Author (EXCLUSIVE)" by Justin Kroll, Variety, October 18, 2016.