59 thoughts on “Dead Astronauts – Jeff VanderMeer

  1. It seems highly significant and far-fetched, but absolutely true, that I received this book about an hour before reading and reviewing IN CONCERT by Steve & Melanie Tem here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2019/10/15/in-concert-melanie-tem-steve-rasnic-tem/#comment-17498

    “‘They call him the Dead—‘ She stopped. ‘He is the lost astronaut, the one the media is so obsessed with.’”
    From the Tem story

    To be continued below when I actually start reading ‘Dead Astronauts’…

  2. Pingback: Synchronicity rampant… | The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews: A LITERARY PARHELION

  3. —> Page 20

    Having by now completed eleven years of gestalt real-time reviewing, and with such training towards susceptible fiction-priming, I thought I should at least be hopeful of becoming suitable for accumulating productively this, so far, rarefied work into my mind, and I have indeed made, to my own personal satisfaction, many productive links or oblique equations between various specific words and images and living creatures and conspiracies and natural growths and numbers and symbols and objective-correlatives. I even linked tentatively some of it to the launched DNA eggs in a story I read yesterday (Dream of the High Mountain). Knowing my propensities for literature as its own preternatural growth, I shall no doubt make, during my reading of this book, further links of synchronicity to my own chance simultaneous reading of other books. This is the art indeed of the “preternatural”, and, of course, that very word appears somewhere in these first 20 pages. And these pages are “real enough”, but notwithstanding that, they do contain what I take to be words of warning… “Empathy wasn’t enough. Imagination wasn’t enough.”

  4. Pages 21 – 41

    “We each handle what we can.”
    “No one should have to feel responsible for the entire world.”

    Nor should any single reader feel responsible for this whole book. We all need to share that responsibility, even including the perceived writer-conduit, i.e. triangulate our own coordinates by each of us conducting a gestalt real-time review of what we read, later blending them into this book’s optimum gestalt. Meanwhile, I tread carefully through its currents and/or tidal pools, differentiating the three main characters so far, distinguishing the ‘astronaut’ returned to Earth from the ‘found art’ human and so forth. Tread carefully among the v-numbers and between, say, ‘gory’ and ‘glory’, ‘cataclysm’ and ‘catechism’, ‘born’ and ‘borne’, ‘mine’ and ‘mine’. City and Company.
    And “Where had the blue fox come from.” My answer: the book’s front cover under the dust jacket. Yours?

  5. 7EA1BAD1-3DE4-43D5-AEEA-A2A765D75812
    Pages 42 – 62
    ‘Because dead things felt only love for the universe.”

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    There seem to be various leaps of faith, including battles between discrete or salamandrine selves, needed for these characters, bearing in mind the creative urge behind them, be that (Charlie) X or (Jeff) V, amid the Balcony Cliffs, including the derelict brackish untidal swimming pool, and the broken wing (“each circling lunge” of the duck) imbues them with such a need, therefore, for leaping, leaping rather than flying. “…across beams, blueprints and ghost layers…” I found by detailed scrutiny that ‘leap of faith’ was a running theme of the recent ‘Big Book of Classic Fantasy’ co-edited by V (my detailed scrutiny here). Truth versus Story. “Who was lying to whom?” More tensions between words, here ‘fostered’ and ‘festered’, “sham” and “shame”.

    “…and the sand burgeoned with new life…

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  6. “What a terrible thing it is to botch a farewell. I am a person who believes in form, in the harmony of order. Where we can, we must give things a meaningful shape. For example – I wonder – could you tell my jumbled story in exactly one hundred chapters, not one more, not one less? I’ll tell you, that’s one thing I have about my nickname, the way the number runs on forever. It’s important in life to conclude things properly. Only then can you let go.” — Yann Martel (author of Life Of Pi)

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    Pages

    “In truth the leviathan, pure, was natural to this place. Had not been created but had lived here all its preternaturally long life.”

    The page numbers are not important, I have found. Perhaps the v numbers like v1.0 and v3.1 in tiny marginalised print are more important. The current-seeded pools we swim in certainly are! You must guess each time where I am up to in this ground-breaking, gestalt-accretive, (n)ever-conclusive book. I wonder if Grayson’s fish is a tench? Some of the actual print in this book for ‘this is me’ literally fades! Towards “white as preternatural, white”…?

  7. “Unsure if the formation was the suggestion of a helmet, of a face. Or just a coincidence, an outline that meant nothing.”

    The pareidolia or apophenia of self. I sense Moss’s doppelgängers here, with whom Moss vies, are more ‘Proustian Selves’ made flesh (she self?), and then we have a frisbee…
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    There is so much here I need to deal with. One reading is always enough, as all my reviews are based on my first reading of a work. But with some books, like this one and The Dark Tower, another reading would possibly be better. ‘The Drawing of the Three’. But that is part of my work’s territory.

    Now, so far, I have read up to “Chen-conscripted disposed of dying biotech at the holding ponds.”
    biotech, i.e. botch?

  8. “—and yet the Company in the context of the City still existed, as if some fundamental truth larger than either the Company or the City had been revealed . . .”

    …what gestalt real-time reviewing is all about, and do I dare mention at this point Ligottian Corporate Horror (or as this book has it “death cult”) (or conceptual “art form”) and do I even more dare mention Mad Scientist fiction or Lovecraft? I only dare do so, bearing in mind this book’s incredible importations of our multiple Proustian Selves stemming from each individual human presumption of a single self, Selves as the monsters. While Azathoth bubbles at the Earth’s Core, while our monsters decimate that same Earth above, and while mannequins or dolls exercise the trial and error of perceived scientists among our monsters, Doctor this, Doctor that. But we also envisage V as victory rather than X as ex.
    Of course, this may all change as the rest of the book is read. That is the danger of dealing with something as it happens, rather than waiting for its end before describing, interpreting, evaluating it. A danger, yes, a risk of a foolhardy leap too soon, but hopefully it’s a near endless leap experienced moment by moment…

    I have now read this book up to: “Across the divide that could not really be crossed, across the void that was the space between minds. Reached out.”

  9. A51BE0E9-AC4D-48FC-B493-935D133F761C

    “To go out to the farthest point again, to see the rock that might be a face staring back in the dim reaches of the universe.”

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    Botch is now Behemoth, not Biotech as I earlier suggested? But where is the c?
    A Tench, I believe, is the fish that was important to John Cowper Powys.
    The nature of dead astronauts … my receiving this book on the same day as I read that story in IN CONCERT, as reported somewhere above, takes on even more significance?

    From my review of the Zelenyj last February HERE
    [[777, 7+7+7 = 21, 2+1 = 3
    The Holy Trinity, again?]]

    I have now read up to this one word sentence: “Meaningless.”

  10. AE2EDAE1-22EF-4806-B36A-65FF091E77EB

    Not meaningless at all, but a prophecy of a mock sort of would-be Tory blue foX prevailing in my UK real-time overnight? Or a would-be Trump? Literature has pinch points as well as cruces. Only gestalt real-time reviewing can attempt to interpret them, perhaps. I keep my powder dry from even the holding pools.

  11. Much lunging and plunging….
    I have now read up to this particular psalm or verse below in a new Bible or in a work of experimental fiction that has somehow, in real-time, struck a chord of gestalt? Crowds flock each day to see its headlease author, be they readers or disciples. I still keep my powder dry from his holding pools.

    “There came a day when the green had so infected the people in the Company building that they fought over Behemoth—what should be done about Behmoth, who should do it, where Behemoth should be taken, what steps, whither steps, no steps. But they were all the same person now. But they did not know it yet.”

    Not a series of steps, but eventually a giant leap, I wonder.

    [I have left the psalm above unfinished. There is a sentence in faded print omitted by me at the end of the quote.]

  12. I have now read in Dead Astronauts up to (in faded print):
    “And I will be the old one. And you will be the start of something new . . . again, through me.”

    Borne through me. Following the wasp that “leapt into the air” from the bear’s pawprint.

    Was there a now dead astronaut who once spoke of a giant leap?

  13. 6A162161-AD47-4157-8BFF-EC8660EC954A “What’ve you got besides a mysterious journal? You take stock every morning, as if it might change.”

    …as I do, every morning, so far, with my own real-time journal about Dead Astronauts. With pencilled palimpsests and marginalia, and entries here. Made-up languages, “squid”, “mushrooms”, sea anemonymous, now salamanders, drones, demons, tiny black monoliths, as if my journal vibrates itself or this book has now been brought – at least temporarily — into our real world. Or vice versa! With inner retrocausal chapters from – 7 – onward. And a “deep cleansing dive.”
    I try to open my heart as much as I can, no matter the cost.

    Read up to: “You still don’t know what it calls itself.”

  14. Pingback: ‘Dead Astronauts’ review proceeds apace… | The Des Lewis Gestalt Real-Time Reviews: A LITERARY PARHELION

  15. “It wasn’t clear.”

    Sometimes I find it difficult to read the deliberately faded print of many passages thus printed, printed intentionally so. Are ‘you’ now ‘the girl’ who ‘screamed and screamed until…’ like Violet Elizabeth Bott? Or the noble Greta, with eyes like a salamander? Or are you a demon as so tellingly described at the bottom of page 181? Do you want to be revealed or (un)ravelled? Or all of these things. And others.

    And we have another example of the Art of the Preternatural when the most remarkable smile in literature — one that I discovered yesterday in a simultaneous book I am real-time reviewing entitled ‘The Child Cephalina’ — is reflected by another smile here in Dead Astronauts…

    Read up to: “Even when the girl knew what the smile might turn into.”

  16. “Because thats what people do… they leap and hope to God they can fly! Because otherwise, we just drop like a rock… wondering the whole way down…’why in the hell did I jump?’ But here I am Sarah, falling. And there’s only one person that makes me feel like I can fly… That’s you.” — Will Smith

    I have now read in Dead Astronauts up to: “She didn’t mean to become a demon.”

    The first bit of that quote is in faded grey, its final word normal bold. And indeed, at my age of 72, I find it uncomfortable to read the many faded grey passages in this book. “You’ve never begrudged your maker the daily pain, the lack of comfort. Lack of care.” Still, I am intrigued by this challenging work, like a multi-interpretable religious tract, one with grey shrifts, and it is challenging in a way that seems to have created disciples for its author. Still, the world as gaia needs disciples more than any one person needs them, but gathering them to a single person first helps in eventually reaching the main good of gestalt… And I see that the girl’s name isn’t Greta. Sitting in the tunnel scrying your real-time journal, or is it hers? At the static flux between fake news and fate news.

    “Charting the English words through the journal, stitching them together into sense or a kind of sense. Thinking it gives you an anchor, even as each sets you more adrift.”

  17. “A vast plain of reeds and grasses, through which passed multitudes. […] And from that first fish had come the next, and the next,…”

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    Biblical, believable: words that assonate. Another novel that works that way (and I mean this tentative comparison as the biggest compliment I have ever given another book in my decades-old quest for fiction as a new relegion) is Powys’ The Glastonbury Romance and its tench.

    “How am I connected?”

    Read up to “77777777”

    [My many quotations from the Powys: https://weirdtongue.wordpress.com/quotations-from-the-glastonbury-romance-by-john-cowper-powys/ ]

  18. Read up to:
    “Fly away dark bird, fly away. Far from here. With your broken wing.
    I am mad, you see, and know it. Yet I know things.”

    Every review is such a leap of faith, but even more so with this book.
    I have been careful not to read anything about it prior to reading it and I look forward to reading all other reviews after finishing my first reading of this book. I have also been careful about not issuing plot spoilers. But sometimes accidentally real-time reviews can stray into such areas and only hindsight can reveal or (un)ravel it.
    This latest section is about being within other creatures, waiting to fly forth into some magical garden? Yet, it is also full of ends and means, the perceived benefit of the most over the few, the Christian God as part of you as the X factor, and even more intangible factors concerning one’s father and mother. Redemption, resurrection. Murder control. Potential leapers feeding on things that crawl or hobble. My poached illustration of a duck’s wing I posted somewhere above with inner human accoutrements seems to be intrinsic to the splicing and cleaving now described, or so it seems in that dreaded hindsight. Keeping the journal safe, but why? Mixed voices, mixed motives. Mixed conspiracies of Company and City. Towards a healed, hawled gestalt yet to be attained. Who reads me other than me?

  19. “There are versions that are not versions at all but only Source. Yet the old man only keeps moving through versions. He’s fractured.”

    Am I, as this old man, the ugly duckling with a broken wing and/or “anchored to a writhing flat black pedestal”? Or a shapeshifter or simply another servant to Mortality, or at best subsumed by Null Immortalis? Someone with fading thoughts, but at least someone who can still think of words that rhyme with ‘duck’? Or trapped by some concrete poetry rhythms of repetitive deaths and resurrections? An old man who once wrote a blank story published a few years ago as the world’s first such story, to match now the blank spaces earlier in this Dead Astronauts book. Another space odyssey? I am an old man who also once wrote concrete poetry in his youth to match the few pages of repetition in this section. Tristram Shandy eat your heart out.

    Read up to: “One time I escaped.”

  20. Read up to: “I dearly wished the joy of triangulation, the pounce based on a good ear’s geometry.”

    A pounce is also a leap.
    Please cross-reference to what I said earlier above in this review: ‘i.e. triangulate our own coordinates by each of us conducting a gestalt real-time review…’
    And elsewhere in the Dead Astronauts foxtext of this section of pages:
    “consequences of coordinates, of fixing coordinates,”
    “The battlefield that was my body. […] Fragments are what I have.[…] I was astronaut and spaceship both.”
    “You wouldn’t understand me even if made I sense.”
    Inhabiting words as we also inhabit bodies?

  21. 520AFBD1-6D2E-4ABD-BC4D-9A77FC8E1118“All the false, wrong coordinates I would occupy. Occupying spaces I wasn’t meant to occupy.”

    9B1EE9D1-FA20-459D-B821-23F24F239CCF

    Like eating meat stew and having people — with relentlessly recited descriptive words as an incantation — kill animals on our behalf. Like, I wonder, Aickman choosing Margaret’s cooked fish to be mört, yes mört, for the ‘Into The Wood’ story. Death as the only possible honesty. In the golden hotel. They fed it in The Hospice, too, I guess. “…and sure leaping over their bodies into the wilderness beyond.” The fox as a fix (“A fox can be whatever he wants to be,…”) that no human can live up to, but words are not enough. Or a demon? Too much to bear? The X biologist eating that stew. TS Eliot rhythms if not meanings and now I have read up to: “A fox is not just a fox is not just a fox.” Gerard Manley Hopkins. The whole Compass Reach now.

  22. “The proof — that trees never turned chain saws against the ones that wielded them. The chain saws, which were even named, as if they were as alive as a tree, had a personality. Greta.”

    B5515715-ED9F-49E7-B1CE-5A0DCDDCC096 B5515715-ED9F-49E7-B1CE-5A0DCDDCC096

    Oh, the irony? Sarah, too.
    I watched the Lars Von Trier film entitled Melancholia recently. We are all triers, I guess, for the battle of love and planetary existence. I enjoyed a renewed incantatory refrain in these pages, here of JOY itself, including the joy of climbing trees. Easier to have a giant leap of faith rather than to climb laboriously, perhaps. Weather talk, small talk. A Dark Tower of Babbling. I literarily had a phone call yesterday from a distant cousin in New South Wales who has been told to prepare for evacuation from the fires. We all have a glimpse of a fox at least once in our lives. But do we ever become a fox? Are we who we say we are? Is there doubt we can fall back on? We all carry our own single dead astronaut inside our heads. Mine is probably big-headed enough for two dead astronauts! A parhelion. But V has three inside his? But names should remain nemonymous, neither moss nor rolling. The stone intact. And no spoilers. Only holding pools. Xxx Vvv. 777.

    I have had a favourite tree in my local area of this our planetary stone, a tree that I visit and photo regularly, one I have long called the Yieldingtree. Maybe I shall now rename it Nocturnalia.

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    Read up to the END

  23. DEAD ASTRONAUTS
    The uncomfortable grey shifts of printed text increasingly seem indeed to be shrifts or hairshirts towards our absolution in and for a world or gaia of our creation, absolution as a Gestalt of all this book’s potential readers. Including those yet to be born.

  24. 1D3C1C84-00BF-4733-A379-B9958C523F37

    Romanian sculpture by Paciurea. Cf my tree above.

    “; it was as if an unexpected metamorphosis had taken place and the imaginer transformed into the imagined.”
    And this book transformed into Dead Astronauts, and vice versa, with neither book possibly knowing the other because they were first published at the same time.

    Above picture and quote from the MYSTERIUM review here earlier this morning: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2019/12/10/mysterium-andrew-condous/#comment-17702

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