Könyvkritika

Jeff Vandermeer : Expedíció – kritika


Jeff Vandermeer a New Weird irányzat képviselője, feleségével szerkesztett antológiát, írt Predátor történetet, majd 2013-ban jelent meg a Déli végek-trilógia, melynek az első kötete szinte az eredeti megjelenéssel egy időben jelent meg itthon is.  Részben ez az aktualitás, részben a reszketve olvadozó olvasók és kritikusok miatt az Expedíció a tél nagyon várt könyve lett.

A regény eredeti címe, az Annihiliation, vagyis megsemmisítés, hűebben adja vissza a hangulatot (talán még inkább megsemmisülés változatban), de a történet valóban egy expedícióról szól. Az X Térséget harminc évvel korábban katasztrófa sújtotta övezetté nyilvánították, és azóta expedíciók sorát küldték oda, szám szerint tizenegyet, melyek egytől egyig kudarcot vallottak. Az nem derül ki, hogy mit találtak vagy nem találtak a térségben, de a kutatók általában csúnyán végezték: eltűntek, egymást ölték meg, esetleg önmagukból kifordulva (önmagukba befordulva?) tértek haza.  Ilyen körülmények között indul útnak a tizenkettedik expedíció négy nőtagja, akiket név híján a kutatási területük határoz meg: a geodéta, a pszichológus, az antropológus és a biológus. Utóbbi a történések egyes szám első személyű narrátora, aki meglepően hamar egyedüli túlélővé és krónikássá válik. Ezzel együtt erősen korlátozott tudású elbeszélő, mert a Térségről sem az elején, sem a végén nem rendelkezik csak ködös elképzelésekkel, de ezzel ő maga is tisztában van: „nincsenek válaszaim, mert még nem tudjuk, mik is lennének a megfelelő kérdések”.

Maga a cselekmény, a regény valós ideje minimális, három nap eseményei pörögnek le halálos áldozatokkal és ép ésszel megmagyarázhatatlan eseményekkel. A Térségben játszódó, thrillerszerűen rövid, feszes jeleneteknél azonban fontosabb, hogy mi játszódik le a fejekben, pontosabban a biológus fejében. A Térségben töltött napok naplószerű gondolatfolyamából áll össze a regény, amelyben a helyek és idősíkok váltakoznak, a gyerekkor, a kutatóutak, a tönkrement házasság, a kiképzés töredékei vetődnek rá a Térségben megtapasztaltakra.  A három nap ellenére így a biológus valójában egy életet tölt a Térségben, miközben tudósként az objektív megismerés kényszerét, ugyanakkor lehetetlenségét éli meg.

A regény erőssége ez a nagyszerű nézőpontválasztás. A biológus magára mondja, hogy „képes voltam egyesülni a helyekkel, világosan átvettem a lenyomatukat.” Ennek megfelelően rövid idő alatt a Térség részéve válik, változások indulnak el benne, ugyanakkor végig képes a tapasztaltak valóságosságát megkérdőjelezni, és ez a bizonytalanság, mint valami LSD rémálom áthatja a beszámolót. Így válik az Expedíció a tudásvágyról, az ismeretlennel való találkozás rettenetéről szóló történetté, valamiféle beavatás-szertartássá, mely végződhet tudással, de halállal is. Mindez nagyon filozofikusnak hangzik, de nem unalmas-iskolás módon, a regény valóban horrorba, pszichothrillerbe oltva elgondolkodtató kérdéseket húz elő az ismeretlen mibenlétéről, már ha valakit érdekelnek az ilyen kérdések.

Az ismeretlent a Térség testesíti meg, mintha egy szereplő vagy élőlény lenne. Már a határai is kijelöletlenek és megfoghatatlanok, az odaérkező kutatók nem tudnak róla semmi érdemlegeset, félinformációk és elhallgatások övezik az előző expedíciók sorsát is. A hely ráadásul láthatóan makacsul ellenáll a megismerésnek, és ez az első lapoktól ad egy nem enyhülő feszültséget, miszerint a Térség valami kimondhatatlan, felfoghatatlan dolgot rejt. A fullasztó, szó szoros értelmében embertelen tájat különösen összetett, de elsőre nem természetfeletti élővilág, ökoszisztéma borítja. Hátborzongató képek égnek az ember fejébe a kihalt faluról, a vérfoltokkal teli világítótoronyról, de messze nem ez a legnyomasztóbb. A Térségben a dolgok nem önmagukért rémisztőek, hanem mert mintha nem azok lennének, aminek látszanak. Mintha visszanéznének. A tudományos mikroszkópos megfigyelés mintha tréfa lenne, poén nélkül, ahol minden szokatlan, de nem túl szokatlan. Az ismerősségnek, mégis ismeretlenségnek ezt a kettősségét mélyíti el a hagyományos fogalmak kudarca. A torony vagy a mászó jelképes megnevezések valamire, amit emberi ésszel felfogni gyakorlatilag lehetetlen, mert még a halál sem ugyanazt jelenti Térségen kívül és belül.

Az élmények ráébresztik a biológust és az olvasót saját korlátaira, hogy a világ magyarázatok nélkül, érthetetlenül magasodhat az ember fölé. Magyarázat ráadásul a regény végére sem születik, és ettől a Térség, sőt maga az expedíció a megismerés izgalmas kalandja helyett hosszú távon is nyugtalanító rémálomként marad meg az emlékezetben.

Vandermeer regénye kapcsán olyan könyvek és nevek ugranak be párhuzamként, mint a Sztalker, a Solaris vagy H. P. Lovecraft, és nem is alaptalanul. A különös X-Térség a megmagyarázhatatlan dolgokkal és az oda behatoló emberekkel akár a Zóna is lehetne. A megismerhetetlennel való találkozás jelenik meg a Térségben, ahogy Lem Solarisában, míg maga történet, a hátborzongató hangulat, az ismeretlen iszonyat fenyegetése Lovecraftot idézi fel. Vandermeer teljesítménye, hogy ezt a több szintű „ismerős, de mégsem” érzést egy elgondolkodtató rémtörténetté gyúrja össze, de végleges ítéletet a trilógia teljes ismerete után érdemes mondani, a második rész, a Kontroll májusban jelenik meg. És egy tanács a kiadónak: elsőre nagyon szép és még ötletes is a középen lyukas borító, de a legkevésbé sem praktikus. Nem azért olvastam újságpapírba kötve, mert szégyelltem a vonaton, hanem mert gyűrődött, szakad, szúrt…

Verdikt

Alapötlet 80%
Atmoszféra 100%
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Final Thoughts

Az Expedíció jól megírt, elgondolkodtató bizonyíték arra, hogy a felfoghatatlan ismeretlen keltette rettegés rosszabb, minden bármilyen felfogható, belátható szörnyűség.

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