Borne

Jeff VanderMeer

“Am I a person?” Borne asks Rachel, in extremis.
“Yes, you are a person,” Rachel tells him. “But like a person, you can be a weapon, too.”

In a ruined, nameless city of the future, Rachel makes her living as a scavenger. She finds a creature she names Borne entangled in the fur of Mord, a gigantic despotic bear that once prowled the corridors of a biotech firm, the Company, until he was experimented on, grew large, learned to fly, and broke free. Made insane by the company’s torture of him, Mord terrorizes the city even as he provides sustenance for scavengers.

At first, Borne looks like nothing at all?just a green lump that might be a discard from the Company, which, although severely damaged, is rumored to still make creatures and send them to far-distant places that have not yet suffered collapse.

Borne reminds Rachel of the island nation of her birth, now long lost to rising seas. She feels an attachment that she resents: attachments are traps, and in this world any weakness can kill you. Yet when she takes Borne to her subterranean sanctuary, Rachel convinces her lover, Wick?a special kind of dealer?not to render down Borne as raw genetic material for the drugs he sells.

But nothing is quite the way it seems: not the past, not the present, not the future. If Wick is hiding secrets, so is Rachel?and Borne most of all. What Rachel finds hidden deep within the Company will change everything and everyone. There, lost and forgotten things have lingered and grown. What they have grown into is mighty indeed.

Reviews of Borne

  • ‘Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy was an ever-creeping map of the apocalypse; with Borne he continues his investigation into the malevolent grace of the world, and it’s a thorough marvel’ Colson Whitehead

    ‘Jeff VanderMeer’s deeply strange and brilliant new novel extends the meditation on the central question of non-human sentience in his earlier work … No one writes a post-apocalyptic landscape like VanderMeer, so detailed and strange in all its lineaments and topography’ Neel Mukherjee, Guardian

    ‘As Borne grows and evolves, so develops a weird family dynamic in a novel that is as much of a fascinating hybrid as its title character, both an enthralling fantasy adventure and a bleak eco-dystopic admonition’ James Lovegrove, Financial Times

    ‘From being a very successful SF writer, VanderMeer will become mainstream – and Borne is full of signs that he is already thinking ahead of that easy transition, and perhaps subverting it’ Toby Litt for New Statesman

    ‘Borne is a fantastic read, a vivid vision of an apocalyptic future that defies expectations and challenges any preconceptions as to how events are going to unfold. It can be disturbing at times – there are some chilling moments that wouldn’t be out of place in a horror novel – but it’s a book that ultimately transcends genre, offering its reader a range of emotions and a finale that provides more than one twist, all of which should be applauded. Rachel’s story is one that will stay in the memory for a long time; VanderMeer shares her hopes and dreams with us, as well as her failures and concerns, making Borne an intimate portrayal that appeals on a multitude of levels’ Starburst

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