Jeff VanderMeer will release a new installment in his Southern Reach series of science fiction novels—a surprise to fans who believed the series had ended in 2014.

MCD/Farrar, Straus and Giroux announced that VanderMeer’s Absolution will be published this fall. The novel is a prequel to the original Southern Reach trilogy, which centered around a mysterious land called Area X, which has been isolated from the rest of civilization.

All three novels in the original trilogy—Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance—were published in 2014, to critical acclaim, with the first volume winning the Nebula Award for best novel. A film based on Annihilation, directed by Alex Garland and starring Natalie Portman and Jennifer Jason Leigh, was released in 2018.

Absolution, MCD says, recounts three new expeditions to Area X. “[T]here are some long-awaited answers here, to be sure, but also more questions, and profound new surprises. Absolution is a brilliant, beautiful, and ever-terrifying plunge into unique and fertile literary territory. It is the final word on one of the most provocative and popular speculative fiction series of our time.”

VanderMeer said in a statement, “I didn’t plan to write a new novel in the Southern Reach series—which is now a quartet! I was happy to be finished and done with it a decade ago, although there were always a few ideas about Area X that wouldn’t leave me alone. And then I had a series of revelations over the past couple of years that opened it back up for me, and pulled me back in with a force I couldn’t resist.”

Absolution is scheduled for publication on Oct. 22.

Michael Schaub is a contributing writer.