by Jeff VanderMeer

Rating: ★★★★

Accessible, enjoyable weird fiction, out chasing the dreamlike edges of science-fiction but locking them down in a simple enough plot about survival and nurture. Among the selling points are a gargantuan flying bear and- well, if 'gargantuan flying bear' doesn't pique your interest then this book probably isn't for you. No, it's not just one weird background detail. He has a name. He is the principal antagonist. Yes, he's very very big, and he just sort of floats around when he wants to. He's probably my favourite character.

Vandermeer plays merrily with biotech in this book, twisting all sorts of beautiful, bizarre and sometimes sadistic organisms out of the imagination of the Company, whose incomprehensible motives have set the backdrop to this story. There's even an indulgent section at the end of the book that just details this crackpipe ecosystem, mixing fact with myth because splitting them would be inconceivable.

The main plot didn't move or surprise me, but one whole star gained for the playful worldbuilding, the all-consuming blob that likes incomprehensible word-games, and for the goddamn-lovable giant flying bear.