Sunday, December 3, 2017

Five top works of SF with weird bug behavior

Spencer Ellsworth’s newest novel in the Starfire Trilogy is Shadow Sun Seven. At he tagged five top works of SF that turn weird bug behavior into great fiction, including:
Children of Time and Slaver Ants, & Pretty Much Anything Arachnic

Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time is a mindblowingly weird and forward-looking science fiction novel, with a dozen different ways to explain the premise, but for brevity’s sake: there was an uplift/terraforming project. It was supposed to uplift monkeys. Instead, we got spiders.
From there, things get interesting.

(Beware: if you’re an extreme arachnophobe, this novel will either convince you that you were wrong, or make you scream and throw your Kindle/paperback out the window.)
Tchaikovsky is an arachnophile and bug-o-phile in general. So his sentient spiders learn to chemically manipulate ants to use them for purposes from fighting to mining, to working as a living computer, all through pheromones and smell signals.

It’s reminiscent of the slaver ants, though not nearly as cruel. Slaver ants move into another species’ nest, kill the adult ants, and enslave the next generation of the pupae. They do this by using the Dufour’s gland, which secrets the chemicals and pheromones so the adult ants they’re wiping out become confused and turn on one another. Basically, they pump out a steady stream of ANGER like little ant Palpatines in a nest full of Anakins.

However, the slaves don’t quite go willingly. They’ll raise their own pupae in slavery, but in some cases they’ll tear the actual slaver pupae to pieces. It’s a common enough tendency that scientists speculate that slavery among ants might soon die out.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue