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I read this Sci-Fi/Horror story as a kid so expect it is maybe 20-30 years old or more. Not sure if it was a short story or a novel. Sort of like an apocalypse by insect?

This details are quite fuzzy but the creepiness always stuck with me. I grew up in Maine where there are a lot of big insects in the Summer due to that marshy land -so this really scared me!

Some of these details may be a bit off but I will try to remember what I can.

The plot:
Bird sized insects that have stingers (something like big dragonflies in shape) somehow populate the Earth and become a huge threat to the continuation of the human species. The stingers seem not only to kill but have the ability to infect the human with something else.. (Not sure what?)

I seem to remember a scene in which one of the main male characters walks in on his (pregnant?) wife who is eating raw meat from a refrigerator and he realizes that she is 'infected'.

In the end of the story, the only way for the humans to survive has been for them to move their small remaining population towards the colder poles of the planet where the insects do not thrive. Even then they have to traverse between locations with protected tunnel-like shields to ensure safety from above.

I don't think this was one of the best stories I ever read, but parts of it have stuck with me and always made me wonder where it came from.

  • 1
    "Bird-sized" is kind of vague. Ostriches or hummingbirds? – user14111 Jan 24 '16 at 8:44
  • About the size of a bluejay I think... perhaps sparrow. They often landed on the forearms of the humans. I think the stinger/bite was located in long beak-like thing, but it may have been the tail. – GreyGamin Jan 24 '16 at 8:48
  • I really hope you find the answer so I can add it to my list of things never to read and to avoid at all costs! – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 26 '16 at 2:44
  • Still searching for this elusive title! – GreyGamin Feb 25 '16 at 8:55
  • Sounds the mosquitoes of Arkansas... – miltonaut Jun 26 '16 at 13:44
10

When I read this book as a kid I thought it was called 'Xeno' but that may have just been the name of the aliens. It was the first adult SF book I read after John Wyndham so it made a big impression.

It is called 'Earth has been Found' by D F Jones. Planes disappear from the sky and reappear years later with the occupants unharmed and unaged. But they are carrying ...eggs? larvae? of parasitic aliens which give them remarkable healing powers and a craving for raw meat.

I remember a line where passengers from the 1920s(?) are brought up to date about latest technological advances and "everyone agreed that the pill was a really important breakthrough"[paraphrase].

When the aliens hatch they are bird-sized indestructible insects as you describe.

I also recall that the craving was for raw liver (vitamin B?), that the man you mention was a young doctor who met his wife (called Dale I think) when she presented with a broken leg, which on a second visit was an 'X-ray of a perfectly formed Tibia". I remember this because it's where I learned what a 'Tibia' was. The Scene where the man (doctor) walks in on his wife (Dale) gorging on raw liver is I think the last scene in the pen-ultimate chapter. It shows that all human efforts to eliminate the invader have failed.

The final chapter was written by a historian figure many years in the future, reflecting on the previous writing as if it was an archived history. His world is completely subjugated by the Xeno. He was reflecting on the events in the story and he called the Xeno 'the Gods' and I think donned a heavy-duty jacket/ safety apparel before venturing outside.

4

Have you looked at "The Forgotten Planet" by Murray Leinster? It was first published as a series of novellas starting in 1920, and first put into novel for in 1954. I found it in the collection "Planets of Adventure" (the link includes several sample chapters).

The story does include a number of nightmarishly large insects, from giant moths to dragonflies to spiders, in a world that is completely overrun with them (to the point the insects dominate, not the humans). There is mention of a great many venoms and poisons, and threats of being stung or eaten. The best chance of survival, in the end, comes from moving to climes inhospitable to the insects (higher altitudes, in this story).

Things that don't fit - The world is one populated by these giant insects and fungi, rather than giant insects taking over our Earth. Insect stings don't infect people or have exotic effects, they are ordinarily venomous. The major threats are physically fighting the insects, and the incursion of some new kind of puffball fungus with deadly spoor.
There is no scene where the character is discovered as 'infected', and there are no refrigerators anyway.

Given the differences, this might not be the story you recall unless it got mixed with something else... but the vivid (and creepy) descriptions of the giant insects, the threat and the danger, are all very present in this work and made me think it might be useful to offer it anyway. I hope it helps.

  • Thanks for the sincere effort! But no it was not a Jurassic-type world. It was a modern world radically altered by the presence of one invasive species of bug. – GreyGamin Jan 24 '16 at 7:57
  • @user14111 - you're right, there aren't any in the story... I did note that was one of the things that didn't fit the question as written, but the rest seemed close enough to mention - even if it didn't end up being what they were looking for. – Megha Jun 26 '16 at 1:32

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