The Swarm by Arthur Herzog – 1974
I picked up The Swarm from a second-hand store many years ago, and it sat at the bottom of my to-read pile of books for a while before I got around to reading it.
The Swarm is an entertaining and fairly short read about an influx of killer African bees to the United States, and follows them as they move from town to town, taking out everyone in their path. Although an entirely fictional account of events, it takes a leaf out of what Michael Crichton did in most of his novels by including enough scientific-looking charts, graphs and diagrams throughout the text to make what you are reading seem authentic.
The Swarm was published in the early seventies, at the height of the general fascination with disaster stories, but where Hollywood was more focused on earthquakes and buildings catching fire, this novel benefits from tapping in to the public’s fear of the unknown. Bees, yeah… but killer bees.
In fact, the novel was somewhat influential in ushering in a plethora of less than stellar stories about animals taking over, over the next decade or so. Of course, The Swarm itself was turned into a particularly awful B-movie a few years later, but the less said about that the better we’ll all be.