December 2020 Newsletter: Bugs, How Big Can They Get?


Movies/books like Them!, Eight Legged Freaks, Starship Troopers (book and movie), Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings series (giant spiders), James and the Giant Peach (book and movie), Empire of the Ants, Invasion of the Bee Girls, the Wasp Woman, The Fly (1958 & 1986), AntMan (not the man in the suit, but there was a giant ant playing the drums) and many others have giant terrifying arthropods.


I know what you are saying, “Jotham, it’s holiday season, where’s the holiday Rabbit hole of Research.” Bah humbug. Lol. Okay, don’t throw any snowballs at me. You want a holiday tie in to giant insects, never fear the internet rabbit hole always delivers: Edmund Gwenn, best known for his role as Santa Claus in the classic Christmas film Miracle on 34th Street, plays Dr. Harold Medford in “Them!”—Now that we have that matter settled, how big can bugs get.

So, I like to think there are three categories of giant bugs in fiction: 1) Human to insect experiment gone wrong—i.e The Fly; 2) assisted evolution (chemical, nuclear fallout, etc accelerates growth): Them! (A-bomb testing in desert), Let The Ants Try, by Frederik Pohl (a great short story combining time travel and giant insects); and 3) giant insects from outer space—Starship Troopers (a great mix of military satire and giant insects, “The only good bug, is a dead bug…”
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On a personal note, “Let the Ants Try,” originally published in the Winter 1949 issue of Planet Stories, was one of the first science fiction stories I ever read (and no, I’m not that old). It was in an anthology (i couldn’t remember the name) my dad was reading and he thought I’d like the story. I had forgotten about this until writing the newsletter. And the internet never fails: the anthology was edited by Robert Silverberg “Mutants: Eleven stories of science fiction” and yes I ordered it); back to the giant bugs—
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So, should we be investing in giant fly seater technology or is giant insects just a fiction fantasy? Let’s go down the Rabbit Hole of Research and find out. Click here to read more

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Author: jomega22

Jotham Austin, II lives in Chicagoland with his wife and two sons. He has his PhD in Botany, and can be found taking electron micrographs of cells at The University of Chicago. His Rom-Com novella, “Tomorrow May Be Too Late” will be published as part of the romance anthology, “Askew Ever After,” January 2021. His debut novel, a sci-fi psychological thriller, ‘Will You Still Love Me, If I Become Someone Else?” will be released February 2021. Jotham recently started a newsletter that explores the science in science fiction (signup at jothamaustin.com). Preorder books and Follow Jotham on social media at https://linktr.ee/Jothamaustin

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