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Authority Audiobook

Authority: Southern Reach Trilogy, Book 2

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Publisher's Summary

The bone-chilling, hair-raising second installment of the Southern Reach Trilogy.

For 30 years, a secret agency called the Southern Reach has monitored expeditions into Area X - a remote and lush terrain mysteriously sequestered from civilization. After the 12th expedition, the Southern Reach is in disarray, and John Rodriguez (a.k.a. "Control") is the team's newly appointed head. From a series of interrogations, a cache of hidden notes, and more than two hundred hours of profoundly troubling video footage, the secrets of Area X begin to reveal themselves - and what they expose pushes Control to confront disturbing truths about both himself and the agency he's promised to serve.

©2014 Jeff VanderMeer (P)2014 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (348 )
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  •  
    Samuel Montgomery-Blinn Durham, NC USA 05-12-14
    Samuel Montgomery-Blinn Durham, NC USA 05-12-14 Member Since 2015

    I'm a voracious audiobibliophile, mainly interested in speculative fiction, with the occasional mimetic fiction or non-fiction title sneaking in.

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    "Another surreal expedition into the uncanny"

    In Authority, VanderMeer pivots from the first-person journal of the unnamed biologist (read by Carolyn McCormick) which introduced “Area X” in Annihilation to an exploration of a different, though as uncanny and surreal, terrain: the organization which sent her into “Area X” in the first place, the Southern Reach itself. We do see the biologist often in Authority, but it is through the eyes of agent/operative John Rodriguez (aka “Control”), newly appointed acting director of the Southern Reach, interrogating her after her reappearance along with the other survivors of the expedition depicted in Annihilation. Control finds offices in decay and disarray, a shrinking staff divided into factions loyal to the previous director and “lifers” who are in it for the weird science and/or have nowhere else, really, to go. Throughout, Control reports his progress and findings — often couched — to The Voice, a shrouded, mysterious figure known only as a (digitally masked) voice on the phone. The cast of characters here each have layers and motivations — usually inscrutable — of their own: Grace, the assistant director who believes the previous director is still alive; Cheney, the head of the science department; and fellow scientist Whitby, who frequently acts as Control’s guide. I found the Southern Reach in Authority to act as both a metaphor for the many fragments of our own labyrinthine consciousnesses while also a rejection of such abstraction or disaggregation; an organization gone feral after decades of attempting to understand the incomprehensible, having stared too long into the abyss. Meanwhile Control’s expedition into its hierarchies and storage rooms and film archives plays with and against reader expectations: again we must question the reliability of our narrator, of the purpose and use of evidence and rationality in the context of such a narrative in the first place. VanderMeer creates mystery, unease, and an escalation of the compulsion behind this series: what is “Area X”?

    Narrated by Bronson Pinchot for Blackstone Audio, the audiobook is, again, fantastic, cementing my feeling that Pinchot is one of the best narrators in the business (from non-fiction like How to Build an Android: The True Story of Philip K. Dick’s Robotic Resurrection to the wide-ranging accents of Tim Powers’ On Stranger Tides and Last Call, to Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree). Pinchot’s characterizations of Grace (annoyed, Southern, mistrustful of Control), Cheney (bombastic, seemingly oblivious), Whitby (hesitant, waffling, couching), linguist Jessica Hsyu, and indeed “Ghost Bird”, the biologist from Annihilation are all spot-on. On the latter it’s really, really interesting to get a third-person perspective on the biologist, who remains a bit flat in affect but with something else waiting underneath. Pinchot also does something a bit subtle in the first chapters: he starts voicing Control’s dialogue with a soft Hispanic accent, which slowly disappears until being read with a neutral accent. Is his identity so quickly swallowed up by the Southern Reach? It’s just one more of the layers-within-layers that draws us ever deeper in. As the sense of unease, of wrongness, of looking where we should not be looking grows (to me drawing connections between the Southern Reach of Authority and the Coburn National Laboratory and Observatory in Robert Jackson Bennett’s American Elsewhere), Pinchot’s narration matches it, tension for tension, finally bursting apart like a puffball mushroom and letting the ideas aloft like spores across the terroir of the transformed landscapes, closing after a novel with a more thriller pacing of half-hour chapters with an extended last chapter three times that length which is impossible to put down. In the end, Authority like Annihilation stands alone; one can read the other without having read (or having to read) the other; reading Authority without Annihilation may if anything add to the mysteriousness at hand, though of course each offers additional layers of context for the other. Also: both novels offer by their final pages a certain closure to dramatic arcs of decision and action, while of course inviting (if not compelling!) further expeditions.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katherine 05-09-14
    Katherine 05-09-14
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    "Bogged Down By Dystopian Bureaucracy"
    Any additional comments?

    This is almost a complete departure from the mystery and wonder of the first book Annihilation. It was, I hate to say boring. It was basically the story of a man who is something of a spy, but really a lame bureaucrat and his feelings. It is probably an ok book if you like that sort of thing, but I wanted something weirder... I wanted area X.

    I gave it three stars which may be a bit generous because A. I like the way the author describes the feeling of what it is like to exist in an environment (whether natural or unnatural), and B: The ending was unexpected and opened up volume three to become awesome again.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel Grant 08-22-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Out of Control - Spoiler Free"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, I would recommend this book and it's predecessor, Annihilation. The second installment of the Southern Reach trilogy follows the character, Control, as he attempts to unravel the mysteries of the Southern Reach organization as its new Director. Deep and suspenseful, I found this audiobook keeping me in the car long after I got home from my commute. While Annihilation focused on the inexplicable Area X, Authority adds a cloak and dagger layer to the agency charged with understanding and containing Area X.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Control was a sympathetic character.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Whitby. I won't spoil it.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Find out about our exciting career opportunities at the Southern Reach!


    Any additional comments?

    I'd categorize this book as a Lovecraftian horror, spy thriller, mystery. It takes an incredibly mundane setting and injects it with so much weird, that you can't help struggling to puzzle out what it all means. But you can't puzzle it out. It resists explanation at every turn. This is actually my fear with the final installment, that the mystery will never be fully revealed or explained, and the reader will be left with so many unanswered questions they will feel disappointed. Make no mistake, this book answers some big questions from the first book. But others just deepen the mystery.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mr. Fiks 09-22-14
    Mr. Fiks 09-22-14 Member Since 2013

    Gamer, father of gamers, married to a gal that puts up with us. I work a solo job and use Audible to make my day go easier.

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    "Only good thing here is Mr. Pinchot's narration."

    I picked the trilogy because Audible recommended it and did not enjoy anything of it besides Bronson Pinchot's narration in book 2 and 3. The story is incomprehensible and so full of adjectives describing each and every thing that your brain tends to shut off just trying to hurry the story to get to the point. I can't recommend any of the 3 books and feel that they I wasted my credits on all 3.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Seiffert Rochester, NY 07-25-15
    K. Seiffert Rochester, NY 07-25-15 Member Since 2016
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    "So very slow for the first 3/4"

    But wow that last 1/4 makes it all worth while. I am back in and looking forward to book 3.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Buzz Park Sherman Oaks, CA USA 02-11-15
    Buzz Park Sherman Oaks, CA USA 02-11-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Lost Meets Outbreak - Best of the Series"

    Enjoyed this book and feel it is the best of the series. Sort of Lost meets Outbreak with a little X-Files thrown in.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Curtis Morales 08-16-14 Member Since 2015

    my mind lives in the aether

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    "Not impressive"
    Would you listen to another book narrated by Bronson Pinchot?

    Perhaps. His narration wasn't great, but it wasn't terrible either.


    Do you think Authority needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    This book is the second in a trilogy. I enjoyed the first - Annihilation - much more. But with as weak as I felt this book to be I am not sure I will go on to read the final book. This book solves some mysteries, and brings up a lot more, but really didn't leave a strong urge in me to continue reading and figure it all out.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Annissa 06-10-14
    Annissa 06-10-14 Member Since 2012

    I like Doctor Who.

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    "Hopefully just a bridge to book 3"

    I absolutely adored "Annihilation" and was really looking forward to "Authority." However, this book did not enthrall me in the same way "Annihilation" did. I'm viewing book 2 as a bridge to book 3, something that gives the necessary information to make book 3 make sense. It's possible that my high expectations caused "Authority" to feel like a let-down, but I genuinely did not find this book nearly as interesting as "Annihilation." However, I still wouldn't hesitate to recommend this series to my friends.

    As I mentioned before, there are important revelations in this book and it has some genuinely creepy moments. And despite my feelings of disappointment overall, I was still holding my breath in anticipation at the last moment of the book. This book isn't bad, not at all.

    A large portion of what I enjoyed about this book was Bronson Pinchot's narration. The man is a masterful reader. So good, in fact, that I may seek out his other audiobook work. I can't praise him enough.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    kwdayboise (Kim Day) Boise, Idaho 04-13-17
    kwdayboise (Kim Day) Boise, Idaho 04-13-17 Member Since 2015
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    "Dreamlike trilogy continues"

    This is the second book of the strange and wonderful Southern Reach trilogy. It’s a fitting continuation of what I called in my review of the first book a feverdream of a story.

    In book one a group of four women investigate a strange site called Area X. They are known only by their titles.

    In book 2 a man who’s generally identified as Control has come to the Southern Reach, the facility assigned to investigate the strange occurrences at Area X. We learn that he is replacing the psychologist of book one, who is now disclosed to be the previous director. The biologist of the first book has managed to return from Area X and Control must interrogate her to find out about the area she escaped. Because Area X immunized her from the hypnosis and conditioning of the Psychiatrist she is a difficult person to manipulate.

    Control (his real name is John Rodriquez) has a strange upbringing. His mother was a CIA operative and there are several flashbacks to his youth between conversations with the biologist and internecine battles with Grace. But it is also clear that there is someone else involved with the Southern Reach. Surveillance equipment shows up in both Control’s and Grace’s offices, leading them to suspect each other. Other things appear and disappear in Control’s office as well. Control receives regular calls for guidance or orders from The Voice, who continues to push for more information. Soon Control wonders if he has been hypnotized and conditioned for this job as the members of the last team into Area X were.

    The suspicion also begins to grow that Area X is changing and reaching out to beyond its mysterious border.

    As with the previous book, Authority contains sparse prose. In depth descriptions are rare with much of the writing built around terse conversations and Control’s inner monologue. Despite, or maybe because of, the style the books are compelling, pulling the reader into the hallucinatory atmosphere of Area X and the agency investigating it. Bizarre stories about previous investigation teams, groups stranded when the barrier around Area X suddenly appeared, and bizarre events like an invasion of thousands of rabbits (thus the cover) all create some amazing story work.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    cormac mullany 04-04-17 Member Since 2016
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    "So slooooow"

    The story is interesting but the pace is ridiculous. If you have read the first book you should just leave it there.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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