In a remote corner of Florida, an apocalypse blooms

Studio 360

Jeff VanderMeer is a science-fiction author for readers who don’t typically flock to the genre. The Floridian borrows from fantasy, horror and weird fiction to create eerily familiar landscapes in his “Southern Reach Trilogy.”

Beginning with “Annihilation,” which was made into a movie earlier this year, the books chronicle the investigation of a supernatural element that has invaded a stretch of coastline known as Area X.

The idea for the books appeared to VanderMeer in a dream. “I was walking down this tunnel into the Earth,” he tells Kurt Andersen, “seeing these letters on the wall or words that were written in some kind of living material.”

To describe that mysterious substance, VanderMeer drew on the Florida wilderness. “I’m kind of an amateur biologist in a way,” he says. “You find out facts and information that just kind of blows your mind as to the diversity, complexity, and beauty of the world that we have around us that we maybe sometimes don't recognize.”

(Originally aired April 4, 2014)