The first novel by Jeff VanderMeer, including approximately 50,000 words of new material exclusive to this edition. In a dark and decadent far future, the city of Veniss persists beside a dead ocean. Earth has become a desert wasteland ravaged by climate change. Veniss endures on the strength of its innovative tech of almost Boschian intensity, but at what cost?
In retrospect, Veniss is the relatively conventional, larval VanderMeer, before his metamorphosis into a truly bizarre, cancerous butterfly creature. This isn’t to say his debut is drab or boring ... Even at this early stage, VanderMeer’s imagination was a fertile birthing place for ugly, fleshy, oozing oddities, and he had a gift for filling in just enough of the world to make you feel like there was something even worse just around a corner you couldn’t see. In later VanderMeer, though, the author is more willing to acknowledge that the thing around the corner is maybe a thing you want to see. In this early effort, the weirdness is still framed as a conventional antagonist ... An enjoyable, thoughtful novel with a new weird idea on every page.
The plot and characters are too thin to really sink your teeth into. And though my tolerance for the gruesome is higher than your average bear’s, when our hero digs into a giant pile of amputated legs searching for his lover it’s a bit much, even for me ... If you’re a devoted fan, Veniss Underground may be for you.
anderMeer's eye for just the right gruesome detail brings his nightmarish landscapes and bizarre, partially human creatures alive in astonishing profusion. Not for the faint of heart, the story packs a strong emotional wallop.