America is a police state, and it is about to be threatened by the most hellish enemy in the world: insects.
When the Agency discovered that Dr. Hellstrom's Project 40 was a cover for a secret laboratory, a special team of agents was immediately dispatched to discover its true purpose and its weaknessesit could not be allowed to continue. What they discovered was a nightmare more horrific and hideous than even their paranoid government minds could devise.
First published in Galaxy magazine in 1973 as "Project 40," Frank Herbert's vivid imagination and brilliant view of nature and ecology have never been more evident than in this classic of science fiction.
|Publisher:||Tom Doherty Associates|
|Edition description:||First Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.75(d)|
About the Author
Frank Herbert is the author of the 1965 science fiction classic, Dune. He passed away in 1986.
Read an Excerpt
Words of the brood mother, Trova Hellstrom. I welcome the day when I will go into the vats and become one with all of our people.
(Dated October 26, 1896.)
The man with the binoculars squirmed forward on his stomach through the sun-warmed brown grass. There were insects in the grass and he did not like insects, but he ignored them and concentrated on reaching the oak shadows at the hillcrest with minimum disturbance of the growth that concealed him even while it dropped stickers and crawling things on his exposed skin.
His narrow face, swarthy and deeply seamed, betrayed his agefifty-one yearsbut the hair, black and oily, that poked from beneath his khaki sun hat belied these years. So did his movements, quick and confident.
At the hillcrest, he drew several deep breaths while dusting the binocular lenses with a clean linen handkerchief. He parted the dry grass then, focused the binoculars, and stared through them at the farm that filled the valley below the hill. The haze of the hot autumn afternoon complicated his examination as did the binoculars, a pair of ten-sixties of special manufacture. He had trained himself to use them the way he fired a rifle: hold breath, concentrate on rapid scanning with only eye movements, keeping immobile the expensive instrument of glass and metal that brought distances into such immediate detail.
It was an oddly isolated farm that met his amplified gaze. The valley was about half a mile long, perhaps five hundred yards wide for most of its length, narrowing at the upper end where a thin trickle of water spilled down a black rock face. The farm buildings occupied cleared ground on the far side of a narrow stream whose meandering, willow-bordered bed was only a thin reminder of its spring affluence. Patches of wavering green moss marked the stream's rocks, and there were a few shallow pools where water appeared not to flow at all.
The buildings sat back from the streama cluster of weathered boards and blind glass at rustic variance with the neatness of harvested plantings that ran in parallel rows within cleanly squared fencelines over the rest of the valley. There was the house, its basic unit in the old saltbox pattern, but with two added wings and a bay window on the wing that pointed toward the creek. To the right of the house there was a large barn with big doors on the second level and an upjutting cupola arrangement along its ridgeline: no windows there, but louvered ventilators were spaced along its entire length and at the visible end. Up on the hill behind the barn there stretched a decaying feed shed; a smaller building on this end that could be an old outhouse; another small wooden structure higher on the hill behind the farmhouse, possibly an old pumphouse; and, down by the higher main fence at the valley's northern end, a squat concrete block about twenty feet on a side and with flat roof: new pumphouse was the guess, but it looked like a defensive blockhouse.
The watcher, whose name was Carlos Depeaux, made a mental note that the valley fitted the descriptions. It was full of default messages: no people stirring about on the land (although a distinctly audible and irritating machinery hum issued from the barn), no road coming up from the north gate to the farm buildings (the nearest road, a one-way track, came up to the valley from the north but ended at the gate beyond the blockhouse). A footpath with narrow indentations apparently from a wheelbarrow stretched from the gate to the farmhouse and barn.
The valley's sides were steep farther up and in places almost craggy with brown rock outcroppings at the top on the far side. There was a similar rocky upthrust about a hundred feet to Depeaux's right. A few animal tracks wound their dusty ribbons through oak and madroña along the valley sides. The black rock of the tiny waterfall closed off the southern end where a thin cinnamon tracery of water spilled into the stream. To the north, the land undulated away out of the valley, widening into pasture meadows and occasional clumps of pine intermingled with oak and madroña. Cattle grazed in the far distance to the north and, although there were no fences immediately outside the farm's barrier, tall grass revealed that the cattle did not venture too near this valley. That, too, accorded with the reports.
Having satisfied himself that the valley still matched its descriptions, Depeaux wriggled backward behind the crest, found a shaded patch beneath an oak. There, he turned onto his back and brought his small knapsack into a position where he could explore its interior. He knew his clothing would blend well with the grass, but he still hesitated to sit up, preferring to wait and listen. The sack contained his binocular case, a well-thumbed copy of Naming the Birds at a Glance, a good thirty-five-millimeter camera with a long lens, two thin beef sandwiches wrapped in plastic, an orange, and a plastic bottle of warm water.
He brought out a sandwich, lay for a moment staring up through the oak's branches, his pale gray eyes not really focused on anything in particular. Once, he pulled at the black hairs protruding from his nostrils. This was an extremely odd situation. Here it was mid-October and the Agency still had not been able to observe the farmers in that valley through an entire harvest. The crops had been harvested, however. That was obvious at a glance. Depeaux was not a farmer, but he thought he recognized the stubby remains of corn plantings, although the stalks had been removed.
He wondered why they had cleared away the stalks. Other farms he had seen in the long drive to this valley were still littered with harvest remains. He wasn't sure, but he thought this was another default message in the valley that interested his Agency so much. The uncertainty, the gap in his knowledge, bothered him, however, and he made a note to check on this. Did they burn the stalks?
Presently, sensing no watchers around him, Depeaux sat up with his back against the oak's bole, ate the sandwich, and drank some of the warm water. It was the first food he had allowed himself since before daylight. He decided to save the orange and other sandwich for later. It had been a long, slow approach to this vantage point from the place far back in the pines where he had concealed his bicycle. The van and the stake-out where he had left Tymiena were another half hour's bicycle ride beyond that. He had decided not to venture back before nightfall and knew he was going to be very hungry before he got back to the van. Not the first time on such a job. The peculiar nature of this case had become increasingly obvious the nearer he came to the farm. Wellhe'd been warned about that. Stubborn persistence had kept him pressing forward past the imaginary hunger line he knew he'd have to pass on the return. The countryside was much more open and empty of concealment than he'd expected from the aerial photos, although Porter's reports had made specific mention of this. Depeaux had expected to approach from a different direction, however, and find his own cover. But there had been, finally, only the tall brown grass to conceal his stalking climb across a wide pastureland and up to the hill.
The sandwich finished and half his water gone, Depeaux sealed the bottle, restored it and the rest of the food to his pack. For a moment, he peered along his back trail to see if anyone had followed. There was no sign, but he couldn't put down an uneasy feeling that he was watched. The lowering sun was picking up his trail with a shadow line, too. No helping that; the crushed grass represented a track, and it could be traced.
He had driven through the town of Fosterville at 3:00 a.m., curious about the sleeping community where, so he was told, they generally refused to answer questions about the farm. There had been a new motel on the outskirts and Tymiena had suggested they spend a night there before reconnoitering the farm, but Depeaux was playing a hunch on this case. What if there were watchers in the town to report strangers to the farm?
It had been capitalized in all of the Agency's reports for some time, from quite a while before Porter had turned up missing. Depeaux had driven on to a turnoff several miles below the valley and had left Tymiena there shortly before dawn. Now, he was a bird watcher, but there were no birds visible.
Depeaux returned to the gap in the grass and had another look into the valley. There had been a massacre of Indians here in the late 1860sfarmers killing off the remnants of a "wild" tribe to remove a threat to grazing stock. As a marker of that all but forgotten day, the valley had been named "Guarded." According to a historical footnote Depeaux had located, the original name of the valley was Running Water, after the Indian name. Generations of white farming, however, had depleted the water table and now the water did not run year round.
As he studied the valley, Depeaux thought about the record of human nature carried in such names. A casual observer passing this way without doing his homework might think the valley had achieved its name because of its setting. Guarded Valley was a closed-in place with apparently only one real avenue of easy access. The hillsides were steep, a cliff marked the upper end, and only to the north did the valley open out. Appearances could be deceptive, though, Depeaux reminded himself. He had reached his vantage point successfully; his binoculars might just as well be a violent weapon. In a sense, they were: a subtle weapon aimed at the destruction of Guarded Valley.
For Depeaux, that pattern of destruction had begun when Joseph Merrivale, the Agency's operations director, had called him in for an assignment conference. Merrivale, a native of Chicago who affected a heavy English accent, had begun by grinning at Carlos and saying, "You may have to waste a few of your fellow humans on this one."
They all knew, of course, how much Depeaux hated personal violence.
From Hellstrom's Hive Manual. The significant evolutionary achievement of the insects, more than a hundred million years ago, was the reproductive neuter. This fixed the colony as the unit of natural selection and removed all previous limits on the amount of specialization (expressed as caste differences) that a colony could tolerate. It is clear that if we vertebrates can take the same route, our individual members with their vastly larger brains will become incomparably superior specialists. No other species will be able to stand against us, evernot even the old human species from which we will evolve our new humans.
The short man with the deceptively youthful face listened attentively as Merrivale briefed Depeaux. It was early on a Monday morning, not yet nine o'clock, and the short man, Edward Janvert, had been surprised that an assignment conference could be called that early on such brief notice. There was trouble somewhere in the Agency, he suspected.
Janvert, who was called Shorty by most of his associates and who managed to conceal his hatred of the name, was only four feet nine inches tall and had passed as a teen-ager on more than one Agency assignment. The furniture in Merrivale's office was never small enough for him, however, and he was squirming on a big leather chair within a half hour.
It was a subtle case, Janvert observed presently, the type he had learned to distrust. Their target was an entomologist, a Dr. Nils Hellstrom, and it was clear from Merrivale's careful choice of words that Hellstrom had friends in high places. There were always so many toes around to be avoided in this business. You couldn't separate politics from the Agency's version of a traditional security investigation, and these investigations inevitably took on economic overtones.
When he'd called Janvert, Merrivale had said only that it was necessary to keep a second team in reserve for possible assistance in this case. Someone had to be ready to step in on a moment's notice.
They expect casualties, Janvert told himself.
He glanced covertly at Clovis Carr, whose almost boyish figure was dwarfed in another of Merrivale's big wing chairs. Janvert suspected Merrivale had decorated the office to give it the air of an expensive British club, something to go with his bogus accent.
Do they know about Clovis and me? Janvert wondered, his attention wandering under the onslaught of Merrivale's rambling style. To the Agency, love was a weapon to be used whenever it was needed. Janvert tried to keep his gaze away from Clovis, but he kept glancing back at her in spite of himself. She was short, only half an inch taller than himself, a wiry brunette with a pert oval face and a pale northern complexion that turned to burn at the drop of a sunbeam. There were times when Janvert felt his love for her as an actual physical pain.
Merrivale was describing what he called "Hellstrom's cover," which turned out to be the making of documentary films about insects.
"Deucedly curious, don't you think?" Merrivale asked.
For not the first time during his four years in the Agency Janvert wished he were out of it. He had come while a third-year law student working the summer as a clerk in the Justice Department. In that capacity, he had found a file folder accidentally left on a table of his division's law library. Curious, he had glanced into the file and found a highly touchy report on a translator in a foreign embassy.
His first reaction to the file's contents had been a kind of sorrowful outrage that governments still resorted to such forms of espionage. Something about the file told him it represented an intricately complex operation of his own government.
Janvert had come up through the "campus unrest" period into the study of law. He had seen the law at first as a possible way out of the world's many dilemmas, but that had proved a will-o'-the-wisp. The law had led him only into that library with its damnable misplaced file folder. One thing had led inevitably to another, just as it always did, without a completely defined cause-and-effect relationship. The immediate thing, however, was that he had been caught reading the file by its owner.
What followed was curiously low key. There had been a period of pressures, some subtle and some not quite subtle, designed to recruit him into the Agency that had produced the file. Janvert came from a good family, they explained. His father was an important businessman (owner-operator of a small-town hardware store). At first, it had been vaguely amusing.
Then the pay offers (plus expenses) had climbed embarrassingly high and he had begun to wonder. There had been startling praise for his abilities and aptitudes, which Janvert had suspected the Agency invented on the spur of the moment because he'd had difficulty seeing himself in their descriptions.
Finally, the gloves had come off. He'd been told pointedly that he might find other government employment difficult to obtain. This had almost put his back up, because it was common knowledge that he'd set his sights on the Justice Department. In the end, he'd said he would try it for a few years if he could continue his law education. By that time, he'd been dealing with the Chief's right-hand man, Dzule Peruge, and Peruge had evinced profound delight at this prospect.
"The Agency needs men with legal training," Peruge said. "We need them desperately at times."
Peruge's next words had startled Janvert.
"Has anyone ever told you that you could pass for a teen-ager? That could be very useful, especially in someone with legal training." This last had come out with all the overtones of an afterthought.
The facts were that Janvert had always been kept too busy to complete his valuable legal training. "Maybe next year, Shorty. You can see for yourself how crucial your present case is. Now, I want you and Clovis"
That had been how he'd first met Clovis, who also had that useful appearance of youth. Sometimes, she'd been his sister; other times they'd been runaway lovers whose parents "didn't understand."
The realization had come rather slowly to Janvert that the file he had found and read was more sensitive than he had imagined and that a probable alternative to his joining the Agency had been a markerless grave in some southern swamp. He had never participated in a "swamping," as Agency old-timers put it, but he knew for a fact that they occurred.
That's how it was in the Agency, he learned.
Copyright © 1972, 1973 by Herbert Properties LLC. All rights reserved.
Table of Contents
Contents1. Words of the brood mother, Trova Hellstrom,
2. From Hellstrom's Hive Manual,
3. From the Agency report on Project 40,
4. From the recorded comments of brood mother Trova Hellstrom,
5. Hellstrom's own addenda to the dietary notes,
6. From the Hive Manual,
7. From Dzule Peruge's original report on Joseph Merrivale,
8. Broad instructions for selected workers,
9. From Nils Hellstrom's diary,
10. From Nils Hellstrom's diary,
11. From Nils Hellstrom's diary,
12. From Nils Hellstrom's diary,
13. From the permanent minutes of the Hive Council,
14. From the Hive Manual,
15. From Nils Hellstrom's diary,
16. From the Hive Manual,
17. The words of Nils Hellstrom,
18. The words of Nils Hellstrom,
18. The words of Nils Hellstrom,
19. The words of Nils Hellstrom,
20. The words of Nils Hellstrom,
21. The words of Nils Hellstrom,
22. Minutes of the Hive Council,
23. General memo from Joseph Merrivale,
24. Inter-Hive Memo: Project 40,
25. The words of Nils Hellstrom,
26. Coded memo from Peruge,
27. The words of Nils Hellstrom,
28. From the Hive breeding record,
29. The words of brood mother Tova Hellstrom,
30. The words of Tova Hellstrom,
31. The words of Tova Hellstrom,
32. Comment on the current film,
33. The words of Tova Hellstrom,
34. Peruge's private instruction to Daniel Thomas (DT) Alden,
35. Script consultation, Nils Hellstrom speaking,
36. Saying of the Hive specialists,
37. From the Hive Manual,
38. Wisdom of the Hive,
39. The words of Nils Hellstrom,
40. The words of Nils Hellstrom,
41. The words of Nils Hellstrom,
42. The wisdom of Harl,
43. Privately circulated memo to the Agency board,
44. Mimeca Tichenum's report on Outside use of Hive stores,
45. The words of Tova Hellstrom,
46. From the preliminary oral report on the autopsy of Dzule Peruge,
47. From a news story, dateline Washington, D.C.,
48. The wisdom of Harl,
49. From the diary of Tova Hellstrom,
50. From the diary of Tova Hellstrom,
51. From the Hive Manual,
52. From Nils Hellstrom's diary,
53. From the Hive Manual,
54. From Joseph Merrivale's private notes,
55. From the Hive Manual,
56. Hive Security Report 7-A: Janvert,
57. Hive Security Report 7-A: Janvert,
58. From the Hive Manual,
59. Hive-sign display over the central vat chamber,
60. The last words of Trova Hellstrom,
61. Hive translation from "The Wisdom of the Wild",
62. From the Hive Manual,
63. What the drone said (Hive axiom),
64. From the Hive Manual,
65. From the Hive Manual,
66. From the Hive Manual,
67. From Joseph Merrivale's report to the Agency board,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In Oregon, filmmaking entomologist Nils Hellstrom establishes the human hive in which 50,000 peoplewill live together based on how insects work as a unit regardless of size. The Agency is concerned about the influence of the Hive and has begun spying on the entity especially wanting to steal a metallurgical technology for their personal gain.------------- Early information proves hard to gather as the agents are easily uncovered by the Hive. Those captured are placed in the dying vats and used as food for the members. Realizing that their first intrusion failed, the Agency sends in a more professional team of experts to learn more about Project 40 and the stunwand.------------ This is a reprint of an interesting 1980s tale focusing on two societies. Frank Herbert goes deep into the Hive so the audience obtains a discerning look at how humans could behave like the social insects that Nils wants to emulate in order for the members to work together for the common good. Within the Hive, a caste system exists for instance the scientists are out of 1950s B movie monster thrillers with all sorts of physical problems. On the other hand, the Agency remains in the shadows so that the audience knows little about them except their obsession over Project 40 and that they appear to be a secret part of the Feds. Science fiction readers will enjoy the HIVE that wants to spread out and assimilate the Outsiders.------------- Harriet Klausner
It was wrong to take that bicycle. Ah, the master. Frank Herbert, creator of Dune (one of my favorite books) returns here with a fairly interesting and definitely unique conspiracy story. Previously published in Galaxy Magazine in 1973 and winner of the Prix Apollo in 1978, whatever that is. This story tells the tale of a secret society living within the boundaries of the U.S., its behaviors patterned after that of insects. It’s a cool and highly original idea, but by the end I was a little disappointed to realize there will probably never be a sequel (the ending is too inconclusive for my taste), unless Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson ever tire of the Dune universe and decide to do a follow-up. Still, it’s a neat little stand alone novel, hardly a classic but still worthy on its own merit.
Well... it's definitely a novel from the 70s. The first quarter of the novel has a lot of characters to keep track of which takes a bit more concentration than some novels might. In fact, a lot of the characters aren't fleshed out anyway so I'm not sure why they're even in there - for the most part they all seem to be interchangeable. The story itself is almost good... Part of the problem with the story is that we aren't led to care about any of the characters - they are all rather plastic. Female characters are all cardboard cutouts and exactly what you'd expect from 1970s science fiction (but, to be fair, the males are also cardboard cutouts). So unless you're on a hunt to fill out a reading collection (Herbert, 70s sci-fi, etc) I wouldn't waste time with this.
Unconvincing when I read it 30 years ago, unimproved upon a recent second reading.
A science fiction political thriller. Suffers from awkwardness and a trouble building sympathy for any of the characters.
This was an interesting story about a perfect society, but one based on insects. Compelling storytelling made it move along quickly, with intrigue from government agency's involvement in the story, but it wasn't great, just good.
Not Herbert's greatest work and a bit dated by modern advances in biology. Nevertheless, this is still an interesting study in alternative human anthropology.
There's a secret under Oregon. A group of people have decided to model a society on insects. They have secretly built a hive beneath a farm in Oregon. It is now fifty-thousand strong. A shadowy government organization has taken an interest in this odd farm. Will they discover the horrors of Hellstrom's hive?Hellstrom's Hive takes a different and quirky idea and runs with it. Inspired by the '70's quasi-documentary The Hellstrom Chronicle, Frank Herbert decided to write a book examining the concept of humans adapted to a hive-like society.The book starts out strong, with the eerie atmosphere of a horror novel. The first bunch of pages fly by as we follow an intrepid investigator who is keeping an eye on the farm. There's no real activity to speak of, but the situation is unsettling nonetheless.Unfortunately, after that strong opening, the book settles down into a much more stable pace. There are no chapters in the book. Rather there are continuous sections, each representing one of the several viewpoints we follow through the course of the story. It is all interesting and there's always something happening. But the sense of urgency and tension the book starts with aren't present, making the rest of the book seem almost sedate in comparison.Still, Hellstrom's Hive isn't meant to be a potboiler. Frank Herbert is unique among the sci-fi that I read in that he focuses on ecology and society rather than the technology and futurism that is the focus of most of the science fiction I prefer.Here, Herbert does a very good job of explaining in detail how his imagined society would work. His characters are pretty flat (though still better and more lifelike than the characters in most contemporaneous sci-fi), but his hive-society is richly imagined and detailed. It would have been easy to make the hive-society a stand-in for communism, even inadvertently. But Herbert never even comes close. While several aspects of the hive society are horrific to us, he never paints them as villains. The 'heroic' side is shown to be much more evil as an organization, though they aren't presented as the bad guys either.Several different agents from the never-named government agency are followed, along with Nils Hellstrom, the current leader of the hive, who passes himself off as a maker of entomological documentaries. The sections are also peppered with quotes from agency reports, a hive manual, the words of the former hive brood-mother and other sources that add color and depth to the story.I'm not clear why the the government agency he created is so shadowy. I suppose he wanted to use their back-stabbing as a juxtaposition to his hive people, but he could have accomplished the same thing using a real agency. Why not the FBI? Maybe he just wanted his characters not to be bound by the rules and laws a real agency has to follow. But all of the mystery surrounding this agency seemed to act as a distraction and it never really goes anywhere.I have a few complaints. The book is dated, the pacing is off and I feel like the book maybe didn't live up to its idea's potential. But what it set out to do is well done. If you've never read Frank Herbert, read Dune. But he deserves to be remembered for more than the series that over-shadowed him. If you enjoyed Dune and would like to see what else he's written, either Hellstrom's Hive or The White Plague are good places to look.
I was really excited to try another story by Frank Herbert and while there is a plethora of characters, theories and possibilities it is no Dune. Most of the characters are developed exquisitely and the settings come alive with dust, wind and scents through out the book. Good banter between key players, but no one character really stood out from the others as terribly exciting or important. The science fiction aspect, what can humans do to survive their shelf destructive nature, was unique to my reading and experience and enjoyable. Some of the points were a little creepy and hard to swallow, but not unbelievable. The role the government plays in this future is entertaining and really not far from what we have evolved into today. Overall a good quick read for random pondering, not an epic.