Book Review: Stung, Bethany Wiggins (2013)

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

“Sleeping Beauty” Meets “28 Days Later”

three out of five stars

Trigger alert for discussions of rape; also, minor spoilers ahead!

In an ill-fated attempt to save the world’s endangered bee populations – and prevent the inevitable global famine which would surely follow – the scientists in Bethany Wiggins’s Stung design a new, genetically modified species of “super bees.” Immune to the effects of existing pesticides and fatally aggressive toward their less high-tech honeybee cousins, humanity’s so-called solution causes more problems than it solves: finishing the grim task begun by people, the Frankenbees drive naturally occurring bee species over the brink of extinction. They also turn on their human creators, spreading a deadly “bee flu” that’s ultimately responsible for thousands – if not millions – of human deaths.

After a promising vaccine fails – those given the antivenin develop superhuman strength and go mad – the government falls back on its “last resort”: a new pesticide, specially formulated for use against the GenMod bees. The only downside? It kills pretty much everything in its path: plants, (nonhuman) animals, even some humans.

In the wake of this destruction, the United States dissolves into a collection of city-states. In Denver, Colorado, there is safety behind “the wall” – but only for those citizens privileged enough to buy their way in with money (honey is the prevailing currency) or essential skills. At the age of 15, boys must join the militia, where they are tasked with defending the wall from “beasts” (those who received the vaccine and subsequently turned), “fecs” (refugees living in the sewers, many of them recipients of the vaccine who have yet to turn), and “raiders” (uninfected outlaws who traffic in women and beasts). Girls inside the wall are expected to marry young and have children.

(More below the fold…)

Fuzzy Numbers

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Speaking of the disappearing honeybees, one Dennis van Engelsdorp of the Apiary Inspectors of America says:

“For two years in a row, we’ve sustained a substantial loss. […] That’s an astonishing number. Imagine if one out of every three cows, or one out of every three chickens, were dying. That would raise a lot of alarm.”

Dude, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but somewhere upwards of 99.99999% of American cows and chickens are dying. To the rate of roughly 10 billion per year. To break it down even further, that’s about 9 billion chickens and 25 million cows. Per year. In America. America alone.

Dennis, you don’t even need to imagine such a thing. Look no further than your dinner plate.

(Crossposted from.)