Authority is the delightful sequel to the wonderful Lovecraftian gem that is _Annihilation_. _Annihilation_ is a constant stream of action, revelation, and betrayal. From the very first the protagonist is struggling to survive in Area X, a normal seeming but immensely dangerous wilderness. _Authority_ is a slower book, and this time the deceptively dangerous environment is the government institution set up to watch over Area X. Here the operative mode of the story is not the constant physical threat of death/dissolution, rather it is in the sudden leap between normalcy and the utterly insane and alien. For this reason the book is a bit slower; it first has to setup a relative normalcy in order to later disrupt it. This is not say that the Authority is slow, there is tons of fighting, but most of the fighting is of the organizational, political, administrative, and psychological variety. I enjoyed this political infighting, even if it is not quite as compelling as the original. Authority is still in the LoveCraftian/Delta Green genre that I love, but this time it is less about the dangers of the field and more about institutional corruption and shadow wars.
I worry that in describing Authority I will fail to say how much I liked it. I liked it! I liked it enough that I read the 350 page book in basically one sitting. The problem that Authority faces is that its predecessor was basically a perfect novel in the genre, or at least perfect enough that I could not point out anything I would change. Authority is very good, but it is not quite perfect. The protagonist, a CIA manager, is not quite as relatable as the biologist from the first novel. His acerbic, absentee, and domineering CIA mom also reminded me a bit too much of Archer's Mom. :) And as I said, Authority is a bit slower. It also does not do quite enough to advance the plot/explore the mystery. We don't learn much more about Area X. The things that happen in this novel are, basically, what the biologist thought might happen in the first book. We don't get any new paragraphs of awesome, insane cultist gibberish (though I guess we do get a few neat cultist murals). In short, in terms of world building it felt like the author was just fleshing out the lines that he'd already laid down in the first book, without adding much more that was really new. Compare this to the first book, where every 25 pages there is a sudden lurch as something new is revealed and the situation completely changes. Ok, enough of my quibbles. Authority is a highly enjoyable read, and it has at least three completely wonderful, laugh out-loud, terrifying and f'd up moments. I'm looking forward to the third book in the series, even if like the second book it is merely excellent and not perfect.