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Hidden in Plain Sight: A Review of A Terrifying Fact About Ants

A Terrifying Fact About Ants - Science Fiction Short Story by Adam Leon book cover. Image on cover shows a colony of ants crawling on each other and on some red soil. Title: A Terrifying Fact About Ants – Science Fiction Short Story

Author: Adam Leon

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: March 11, 2022

Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult, Horror, Contemporary

Length: 24 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3 Stars

Blurb:

Review:

“I discovered a strange relation between ants and another fascinating insect; spiders. Specifically, the Myrmarachne formicaria; the spider that looks exactly like an ant that was discovered by researchers back in 2001.

How strange it must have been to be the researcher suddenly noticing their colony of ants becoming cannibalistic. The Myrmarachne formicaria’s evolutionary convergence had the primary purpose of mimicking their prey to allow the creature to invade anthills without being attacked, allowing the creature to burrow deep into their homes and devour the larvae of their undeveloped children, and then walking away as if nothing ever happened. Terrifying, yet unbelievably fascinating.

Not only would the spider have to evolve to look exactly like the ant, but the species would also have to understand the simple psychology of ants, matching pheromones, behaviors, antennae communication etc. just to pull off this horrifying heist. How could random evolution be responsible for such deliberate manipulative complex action?

Of course, in recent years, it’s been understood that the Myrmarachne formicaria is not alone in its formation, countless other spider species have mimicked ants so well that researchers were only able to recently discover their existence through the use of DNA testing.

I started to wonder if a similar case could be applicable to human beings. Are there people among us who are not people? Are there psychological manipulators camouflaged as their prey so expertly, for the sole purpose of devouring our young and bleeding the public dry as if we were nothing more than livestock? And I’m not just talking about politicians here.

Be careful who you trust.

I have two quick notes to share about this short story before I jump into my review. First, be sure to read the introduction. It contains some important information that readers will need in order to understand what’s happening. Second, I also wanted to mention that the original Spanish version of this story is happily included in this version, too, for readers who understand that language.

Antonio, the protagonist, and John, the gringo who had recently moved to the area, had a relationship that made me chuckle. Both of these individuals made assumptions about each other that may not have been as accurate as they assumed. I was also amused by how Antonio’s gentle and trusting personality was matched by John’s fierce independence and unwillingness to trust anyone with even the smallest scraps of information about his life until he’d known them for a long time.

The implications of what John had to say about why he left the Anglo world for such a remote Hispanic community were chilling, but I found myself wishing he’d shared more details about what his life had been like before the events that drove him so far away from his original home. I’m saying this as someone who loves analogies and solving the riddles authors sometimes share in their works. It simply would have been easier for me to emotionally connect with John if I knew some basic details about his past like the names of his loved ones or the precise location of English-speaking country he’d left behind.

Some of my favorite scenes were the ones that explored the cultural differences between Antonio and John. For example, John thought he should pay for help by the hour while Antonio thought it made more sense to pay by the task so that workers would finish the job as soon as they could. These sorts of cultural misunderstandings can lead to all sorts of amusing miscommunications that work so well in otherwise serious works like this one. The fact that their personalities were also so different from each other as I mentioned earlier only made this aspect of it even more memorable. They had so little in common, and yet I loved seeing how both of them worked together as John built up the courage to share a small sliver of his past.

A Terrifying Fact About Ants made me shudder.

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Thoughts on Fan Fiction

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

A woman dressed in chainmail, leather, and wool. She’s holding a funky wooden staff and appears to be dressed as a fantasy character. When I was a teenager, I wrote a little bit of fan fiction for a couple of my favourite worlds (Narnia and the prehistoric world set in Jean M. Auel’s Earth’s Children series that I’ve talked about here so often, if you’re curious).  I never finished any of it and it doesn’t exist anymore so far as I know, but I had a wonderful time playing around with characters and settings I knew so well.

I’ve read far more fan fiction than I’ve written. The quality of it varied depending on the skill of the person writing it, of course, but that’s true for any form of storytelling. I’m interested in experiencing fabulous stories no matter where they come from: fan fiction, self-published books, hybrid-published books, traditionally-published books, tv shows, films, music, or spooky stories told around a campfire.

To me, fan fiction is a hobby that may sharpen your writing, communication, and critical thinking skills if you write and/or read high quality material. I’d compare it to cosplay or role playing a character for Dungeons and Dragons in that you get what you put into it and there are so many different ways to enjoy it.

Some people adore it and do it regularly. Other folks are like me and have dabbled in it. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who have zero interest in this stuff, and that’s perfectly okay, too.

Hobbies make life more enjoyable. Of course I encourage everyone to follow their interests no matter how young or old you are. Life is too short to be serious all of the time or to worry what others think about what makes you happy.  For some folks, chasing happiness includes doing things like dressing up in fun costumes or making up stories about your favourite characters. I say more power to them!

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Hilarious Book Titles


Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

Two women laughing while reading books. One has a book on top of her head. This is one of those topics I could talk about forever! Isn’t it wonderful to chuckle when you read the title of a book?

I like to collect hilarious book titles as I search for new books to read.

There are some quite clever ones out there. The more you find, the easier it is to discover even more of them in my experience.

Here are just a few of the ones I’ve discovered. Yes, I’m sure a couple of them are probably repeats from previous TTT topics, but why not giggle at them again?

The only one I’ve read so far is How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming. It was an informative, interesting, and sometimes funny read.

1. How I Stole Johnny Depp’s Alien Girlfriend by Gary Ghislain

2. Everything I Needed to Know about Women I Learned by Reading Twilight: A Vampire’s Guide to Eternal Love by Jim Lee

3. You Don’t Have to Be Evil to Work Here, But it Helps (J. W. Wells & Co., #4) by Tom Holt

4. This book cover and title have nothing to do with this book. by Jarod Kintz

5. How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown

6. Hello Kitty Must Die by Angela S. Choi

7. Nibbled to Death by Ducks by Robert Wright Campbell

8. My Ass Is Haunted By The Gay Unicorn Colonel by Chuck Tingle

9. How to Defeat Your Own Clone and Other Tips for Surviving the Biotech Revolution by Kyle Kurpinski

10. Surviving Your Stupid Stupid Decision to Go to Grad School by Adam Ruben

 

In the Deep Depths of the Ocean: A Review of Aegan and the Sunken City

Aegan and the Sunken City by D.G. Redd book cover. Image on cover shows an anchor falling through the ocean and about to touch the ocean floor. Title: Aegan and the Sunken City

Author: D.G. Redd

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: January 26, 2021

Genres: Science Fiction, Futuristic

Length: 17 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb:

The Cartographers have announced that the Triton will drift over an old city. Aegan finds himself lucky enough to be ready to drop in his deep-dive submersible, the Argo, and scavenge for riches. If he can collect enough salvage, he can buy his way into the upper-decks, to the levels of peace and quiet. For now though, he’ll need to make do with the solitude of his boat as he slowly descends to the sunken city.

Review:

Content Warning: sea monster. I will discuss it in this review.

The ocean is only as trustworthy as who or what is swimming around in it.

Morally ambiguous characters are so interesting to read about, especially when they’re as personable as Aegan was. Would I trust him with my credit card? No, but I would love to sit down to dinner with him and hear some of the stories he could tell about the slippery and sometimes downright illegal things he’s done in order to survive. There is no doubt in my mind that he’d have a few acts of heroism to throw in there as well. He excelled at bending and even breaking the law, but he never struck me as a cruel man. He was simply someone who was trying to game an unfair system in order to make his own life easier.

I would have liked to see more time spent describing the sea monster and it’s intentions. Yes, Aegan was used to such distractions, but this reader was not! It was hard for me to picture what it looked like or why it was so interested in Aegean’s vessel in the first scene. I was also surprised by how the plot veered away after that moment, so having a more detailed description of why the author went in that direction would have been helpful as well. This is a minor criticism of something I otherwise enjoyed quite a bit.

The world building was nicely handled. While the author didn’t have a great deal of time to go into detail, he shared enough information about how global warming changed the sea levels and human society to keep me interested and eager to find out what else had changed between our present and this nebulous time in the future. This is the sort of thing I’m happy to wait around for so long as I have a basic understanding of how e everything works, and that was definitely provided here.

This is part of a series but works perfectly well as a standalone work.

Aegan and the Sunken City piqued my curiosity for more.