Robert Reed. The Ants of Flanders. (Fantasy & Science Fiction, Jul/Aug 2011)

cover by Maurizio ManzieriReed on top form (and with a great cover image to illustrate the story).

The titular Ants of Flanders refers to what the ants of that region felt when the opposing forces used their land to wage The Great War. No guessing who the ants are in this story! The story starts with the typical Reed touch – starting long, long ago, and far, far away. But the comet that has been wending its way across the universe for aeons has been in stealth mode, and it has a microscopic package that will be the seed for one of the warring factions. The story continues with the reader put slightly off-guard, as a young student gets up close to the alien creature desperate to get hold of the resources it needs to carry on its task. But rather than a cutesy ET relationship, the extent of what is about to happen gradually dawns, and an epic battle for humanity unfolds, with Reed cleverly focussing on the individual human issues as well as the bigger picture, as he does so well.

A shoo-in for a couple of next year’s Year’s Bests.

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