Pretty sure it was in Omni, I remember reading a story about a bacteria/organism or similar, living in a terrarium, that becomes sentient then technologically capable, escapes and eventually takes over a guys bedroom and then the world.

Anyone know what this is?


1 Answer 1


This is "Sandkings", by George R R Martin, published in the August 1979 issue of Omni. It later went on to be adapted as an episode of The Outer Limits

In it a man starts breeding a kind of insect in a terrarium, starving them, making them fight. As you say, the bugs evolve rapidly, become smarter, finally escape, and the rest is left to the imagination...

George Martin wasn't famous then, as he's not even mentioned on the cover.

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  • Loved that episode of The Outer Limits, didn't know it was a written story first! It was actually the very first episode (of the revived series)... just found the full episode on YouTube, may have to go back and watch it again.
    – Lindsey D
    Jun 6, 2018 at 4:55
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    The Outer Limits version had a lot of differences. The original story took place in the future; the protagonist was looking for an exotic alien pet, and bought the sandkings from a mysterious dealer. On TV, it took place in the present and the sandkings were brought back from an expedition to Mars. Jun 6, 2018 at 7:07
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    This is likely the answer, but the title is "Sandkings", not "The Sand Kings".
    – Spencer
    Jun 6, 2018 at 22:51
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    For those interested in a similarly-themed story, Brian Stableford's "The Engineer and the Executioner" is an excellent (and chilling) read.
    – Helbent IV
    Jun 7, 2018 at 4:42

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