Time and again, in countless forms and fashions, authors have sat at their desks, prepared to tackle The End Of The World. Humankind is fascinated by its own destruction; we study, project, and number-crunch on a micro- and macro-scale. While scientists, statisticians, and historians have continued to postulate on the beginning of the end, it’s often the far-out, wildly speculative theories we love, coming straight from the secret, terrified heart of man. From the pesky-summer-cold-turned-pandemic to the alien invasion, Earth and its obliteration is a subject long-explored by authors across the genre spectrum – and why not? If we’re all but doomed to complete annihilation, we might as well go for broke; preparing for the unbelievable tends to minimize the shock of the eventual reality.
In this vein, we have The Colony, written by A.J. Colucci – one “nature attacks!” take on the aforementioned impending apocalypse. Beginning with a grisly series of murders that continues to horrify authorities and civilians alike, we follow the action from the inside out, shadowing a group of experts tasked to fight against both time and nature. A “super-colony” of genetically-engineered ants has been breeding in secret for years in the bowels of New York City, the experimental product of a radical eco-terrorist organization. Ant expert Dr. Paul O’Keefe, the smooth scientist with the tailored suits who always has the answers, is called in as a consultant to study and combat the infestation, paired up with his free-spirited ex-wife, Dr. Kendra Hart, a scientist whose unconventional methods are the only hope for a terrorized city on the brink of a hostile takeover. With the clock running out, up against a government hell-bent on extreme measures, Paul and Kendra have no choice but to succeed.
The story, while ordinary in its structure, does remain engaging throughout, and makes for a quick read with very little filler. While I personally didn’t feel the need for all the romantic tension, it did provide a nice counter-balance to the heavy dose of good science that makes up the bulk of the narrative. It’s obvious that Colucci did her homework, as the novel is peppered with enough sound insect science to gag a maggot; the research is strong and does well to hold up the plot, lending it both strength and credibility without weighing it down or veering into textbook territory. There’s a lot of expository writing going on in the first half of the book – though it isn’t completely detrimental or damaging, there is a definite upswing in the action at the halfway point. Colucci’s style is simple and not incredibly dense, and there’s a conversational tone to much of the piece that feels relatable and lends ease to the reading. This is a solid first effort from a fledgling author who has a decent sensibility for the craft.
Though the threat feels credible within the parameters of the story, and the action moves along at a good clip, I will say that I was never fully doubtful about the outcome; something in the tenor of the writing telegraphed the ending for me. That being said, I’m not sure that stories like this need to keep one guessing all the way through, as they tend to be more about the journey and the peril therein. In many instances, I found myself thinking that, done right, this would make for a pretty fun B-movie – a popcorn movie, to be sure, but an enjoyable one that serves its purpose.
Horror will always have a place for the Giant Killer Bug, and Colucci delivers a satisfactory, interesting work that doesn’t get too tangled up in its own shoelaces. Well-researched and plainly told, this is a story that will cater to both sci-fi and horror fans alike.
Kara is a Senior Office Assistant for the Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics at Indiana University. A past English major and lifetime writer, she has also served both as an actress and behind-the-scenes assistant for several projects with our friends at Clockwerk Pictures. Kara lives with her husband in Bloomington, Indiana. In her spare time, she is a freelance editor/proofreader for international students at Indiana University, and serves as an organizer of the Dark Carnival Film Festival (www.darkcarnivalfilmfest.com).