The Shimmer is a rogue splinter of the Shard of Cultivation from the Cosmere
that hasnt fully developed sentience yet.
The Shimmer is pretty much exactly what youd expect to happen if a very large splinter of Cultivation that lacked a full mind of its own invested itself into a region. Everything growing and changing unpredictably, sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes neither. Different traits being selected for/against at huge rates, things randomly transforming into and between one another. Cultivation to a tee.
This is where the Yu family business first came across the Typhon aliens; they are going to capture more and analyze them, thus making Annihilation
a Stealth Prequel
The "Kane" that returns to Lena who is suspected to be an alien mimic, is actually the real Kane.
The one that kills himself on camera is the copy. The real Kane's memories are refracted into it, making it go crazy with existentialism because it's the first time it's exposed to human individualism and emotions. The real Kane, who lost most of his memories while taking on some alien characteristics as well, then ambles back to Lena but is soon sick because the alien particles inside him starts wreaking havoc. However, when Lena then destroys the source of the Shimmer, he's all fine again because the parasite inside him got killed off.
- Seconded, it sounds compliant with both the novel's theory and the heated finale of the movie.
Crystal trees, prisms, random endless sometimes horrific mutations, the distortions and unpredictability of time? Sounds like someone opened a mini Eye of Terror straight to the realm of Tzeentch.
In Children of the Mind
, we learn that the Descoladores
are a species of aliens that communicate through genetic modification. Though we never see them, they appear to send out the Descolada virus to other planets, including Lusitania. Maybe this is what it looks like before a planet can fully adapt to the Descolada. Since, in Children of the Mind
, we see the planet thousands of years after it became infected with the Descolada. Also the species the Descolada created are similar to what we saw in the movie, people morphing into trees, just like the pequeninos had on Lusitania.
Lena and her squadmates right died after they went into the Shimmer
The five we see after that are clones created by refractions in the Shimmer. Remember when they wake up after going in and realize they lost their memories for the past three days. What if they didn't lose their memories at all, but just died and had their present states copied over after three days? It would also explain why Lena appeared to be part of the Shimmer after she got out.
- They know they've been there three days or so because the rations from those three days aren't there.
- The original team may have been there for three days before dying. The copies were based on the team's state when they first entered.
The alien is actually a fragment of Unicron
First off, the alien's form looks surprisingly like Unicron in his planet mode, what with its vaguely circular shape and hole in the "front" of it for absorbing things.
Secondly, Unicron is the "Chaos Bringer", and after crashing on Earth, the alien begins "chaotically" moving DNA around and combining it with other DNA to create entirely new beings. Unicron was shown to be able to do something slightly similar in The Transformers: The Movie, where he reformatted Megatron and several other Decepticons to serve as his minions.
Since the alien doesn't have any real intelligence in it, yet contains the essence of Unicron, it is simply following its nature by refracting things and switching DNA around with no real purpose. It is also stated the alien will eventually fragment everything until there is nothing left. This is actually pretty in line with Unicron's goal, the destruction of the multiverse.
The alien is a Wyld being
, and the Shimmer is actually Wyld energy.
The alien was a powerful Wyld creature that entered the physical world through the Umbra, bringing Wyld taint with it. The time distortion, madness, and mutation that occur in the Shimmer are the effects of rapidly-spreading Wyld energy.
The Shimmer is the beginning of the Sick Land
The Shimmer and the Mal as described in the Sick Land both have a lot in common.
- Mutating wild life and humans? Check.
- Being unexplainable? Check.
- Messing with space and time? Check.
- Being restricted in a certain area that is slowly but surely expanding? Check.
Conclusion: The Mal and the Shimmer are either the same or a similar anomaly.
The humanoid at the end goes insane trying to understand humans
Fiction is full of occasions where someone tries to understand an Eldritch Abomination
or some other great unknowable force and winds up going mad from the attempt
. Logically, however, if they have Blue-and-Orange Morality
and are completely unknowable to us, odds are are we would be equally alien and strange to those creatures. When Lena and the Humanoid are in the room together, it seems very much like the humanoid is trying to learn about her and humanity, until it finally copies not just Lena's general body but her face... and as soon as it does so it stops, and basically commits suicide, with minimal help from Lena. The Shimmer tried to learn how to truly understand and see through the eyes of beings completely different from it... and was totally broken by the effort.
The Fractal/meteor/shimmer/whatever isn't a being so much as an alien piece of hardware.
Think about it. It has no desire
to endlessly reflect and mix-and-match the world around it, it just does
. It has no desires at all
. This makes little sense if it's supposed to be a creature or person, but it would be expected if it was a computer
that was programmed
to do all this. Google Chrome has no desire
to show me tropes or cat videos, it just does
, since that's what it was made to do. As for why it was built to do this? Maybe it was part of some randomization device like one of those predictive keyboard apps or the Pokemon fusion generator. It was probably launched to Earth by pure accident