Mort(e) by Robert Repino
This is a strange fantasy about the (apparently centuries old) war of the super intelligent giant ants and humans. All the other surface life is caught in the middle, and, with a semi-magical ‘hormone’ released by the Queen ant, are transformed into upright humanoids. Never mind how this might be possible, why would the ants even bother? No idea, though this question underlies much of the tension in the story.
The protagonists in the story are upgraded animals, including the feline Mort(e), from whom we learn many harrowing stories of their “slave lives” and the subsequent war. By definition, these are alien intelligences, though we certainly feel a certain sympathy and empathy for the cats, dogs, rats, and other animals who are flung into sentience and conflict.
We also are treated to introspective views of the mind of the ants, which is a giant hive mind. This part is harder to empathize with, which I guess is part of the point. But long passages rendering the supposed thoughts of the Queen do tend to drag on.
Overall, the plot makes almost no sense at all, except for the fact that you can see why all the other species would want to wipe us out for our crimes. But there are so many holes in the plot, I couldn’t take it seriously.
- Robert Repino, Mort(e), New York, Soho Press, 2015.
Sunday Book Reviews