Talking Scared

36 - Jeff VanderMeer and Our First On-Air Murder

April 28, 2021 Neil McRobert Episode 36
Talking Scared
36 - Jeff VanderMeer and Our First On-Air Murder
Show Notes

Jeff VanderMeer is our guest. Need I say more?

First things first though, rest easy, the episode title doesn’t refer to either me or Jeff. We both make it out alive.

Not everything does though. Listen on for the most on-the-nose display of savage nature, so perfect a backdrop to a conversation about animals, ecological crisis and the horror of extinction. What starts with the brave little hummingbird could end up killing us all.

Jeff’s new novel, Hummingbird Salamander is an eco-noir, an accelerating ride to a point “ten seconds in the future” at the end of the world. It’s a deeply challenging book, both in style and message, and in a rare moment of seriousness, it brought our shared ecological plight and our wrongdoing home to me like nothing before. 

Jeff and I talk about how humanity can live with the peril of ecological disaster hanging over our heads, and how fiction can help bring that reality home. In lighter moments Jeff also tells me about how he thinks up stories involving giant flying bears, gives a lot of info on his upcoming collection of horror novellas, and horrifies me with the reason behind his phobia of cockroaches. Seriously … JESUS CHRIST JEFF!! 

Oh, and I introduce my new Patreon membership perks. Trust me, you wanna! 


Hummingbird Salamander was published in the UK by Fourth Estate Books and in North America by Farrar, Straus and Giroux on 6th April.

Books discussed include:

  • Annihilation (2014), by Jeff VanderMeer
  • Borne (2017), by Jeff VanderMeer
  • The Rain Heron (2020), by Robbie Arnaut


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Thanks to Adrian Flounders for graphic design.

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