But I was intrigued by the pre-publication blurbs for his Annihilation, the first book in a trilogy about a weird, possibly alien-infected, zone of danger and peculiarity and the people attempting to get to grips with it: a development of the ideas from the classic Strugatsky brothers' novel Roadside Picnic (filmed as Stalker). That all three books in the trilogy were already written and being released over a period of only nine months helped--no waiting around for years to read the end of the story, with the added worry of the author dropping dead before they finished writing it.
Annihilation was in fact very good indeed, and now I'm reading the newly released second book, Authority (the final volume comes out in September), which may be even better. I seem to have sorely misjudged Vandermeer, and I apologise.
it doesn't hurt that all three books, published by FSG in the US, have beautiful cover designs by Charlotte Strick, making use of unsettling illustrations by Eric Nyquist. The line art is printed with metallic ink, which is very effective in the flesh. (Click all images for bigger versions.)
Nyquist is also responsible for the end papers to each volume, picturing the lush and weirdly wrong wildlife of Area X.
Nyquist has even animated the three covers for added freakiness.
The books are published in the UK by Fourth Estate, and have the misfortune to have perfectly good cover designs that are kicked completely into the shade by Nyquist and Strick's work.