Sunday, October 16, 2011



This 1974 Arthur Herzog novel is the source of MANY AN OVERBLOWN LEGEND about our sisters in the world-takeover conspiracy, the killer bees. Not to mention the source of a really crappy big-budget disaster movie, 1978's The Swarm, featuring BRADFORD DILLMAN -- whose acting brilliance, BELIEVE IT OR NOT, just wasn't enough to save the picture from being a STEAMING PILE.

...But back to the book. This is actually a great read, with a sort of Andromeda Strain feel to it. The reader watches, more than a little tensely, as the desperate scientists work to solve the killer-bee riddle before the entire USA is inundated with the stinging hordes. They hardly ever bog you down in a bunch of scientific claptrap, tacking back and forth from the bee-research facility to, say, a picnic where someone broke a jar of honey, and you know everyone is about to die horribly. The tension stays high and so does the reader's interest.'s weird in spots.


>> Even though they have a lovely and mysterious Brazilian scientist on the team, NOBODY MAKES THE CONNECTION that the killer bees, long extant in Brazil, are REALLY NOT MUCH OF A PROBLEM DOWN THERE. Typical for a Seventies sci-fi novel, the lovely and mysterious etc's main purpose in the story is for the protagonist to go to bed with.

>> It seems far from clear to these bee experts that every attack on humans starts with an attack on the bees. You'd think at least that the 10-year-old boy who lost his parents and sister to the first bee attack would know better than to go out and throw a rock at the hive. That's just what he does, though, and GUESS WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? Typical Shaved Monkeys, I swear!

>> It's far from clear to me, personally, why the authorities thought it would be safer to have people living in tents in Central Park as the killer bees storm New York City. They keep saying that the apartment buildings are far too easy for the bees to get into, compared to a tent. Yeah, OK. Nobody even mentions the fact that tents are very unlikely to have any useful amount of food or water inside them, let alone sanitary facilities, forcing the refugees to leg it repeatedly across the park for everything they need, when they could be buttoned up safely in their own homes with canned goods and running water. I really dare say even the unsafe apartments could be MADE safe. HAVE THESE BRILLIANT SCIENTISTS NEVER HEARD OF CAULK?

>> The ending was purely a wish-fulfillment fantasy. 'Nuff said. I WON'T SPOIL IT FOR YOU. But it was a nice touch of lemmingdom, really...I'll shut up now.

>> Most astonishing of all is the unlikely racist undersmell in this story. OK, not an undersmell -- it's an oversmell. In all my years of hearing about the onrushing Killer Bee menace, I never heard them called African or Africanized bees. They were always the Brazilian killer bees, period dot. My first exposure to the "African Menace" angle came about pretty recently, when I saw something about it in Michael Moore's gun-violence documentary, Bowling For Columbine. But Herzog points out, on every page of his book, that the bees are African. There's one scene where a scientist barges into a boardroom at the research center where they're discussing their bee findings, saying "They've discovered a tribe of Mau Maus in Florida!" By this he means a hive of killer bees. Much later in the story they sit around discussing with straight faces the fact that the African bees need to be replaced by WASPs -- white Anglo-Saxon Protestant bees. No, really, they said it right there on the page. And then they all laughed. In other words, ladies, the Naked Apes look at killer bees and see the Black Power movement. Unbelievable. I mean, I know humans are anthropomorphizers, monkeycentric, thinking everything is about THEM -- but puuuu-leeze! DID NOBODY NOTICE THE EXOSKELETONS?

You'll enjoy this one, I promise.



Blogger Ur-spo said...


10:21 PM  

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