Off the Shelf

“The Swarm”

By Marcus Pan

The SwarmThe Swarm is a very long, but satisfying, read. The implications it presents are huge – a deep sea intelligence similar to the collective consciousness of the Borg of Star Trek fame. Frank Schatzing’s vision of the alien species itself is brilliant, however hard to comprehend sometimes. His research into genetics and posturing of utilizing mutated DNA as a basis for intelligent learning is quite brilliant.

The main problem I had with The Swarm is its length. It’s a huge book, would break a thousand in paperback. The reason for this I understand however, as the plotlines within the book that diverge later are multiple. Having to establish the extent of the plot within the novel, Schatzing had no choice but to make it somewhat long in order to establish the various characters we’ll come to know and build the threads that come together later to become a deep reaching ending.

There’s elements of Big Brother government conspiracy here, the cultural battles of country powers and the novel will even touch on the morals of war versus diplomacy quite well. Frank’s looking into the sea and remaining on our own planet while nonetheless establishing a brilliant alien intelligence defies most space-faring science fiction and does so even without the cliché of ocean horrors from Hollywood and elsewhere.

The ending itself, the last 50 pages or so, is a rushing climax worthy of the long read. It’s a spectacular ending and touches on spirituality, philosophy and theology all together. And while some people might find the whole blob-like thing a bit redundant, if you can grasp the internal mechanics of it (very well researched on Frank’s part) you’ll appreciate it on a much higher level. The Swarm as the novel’s name is a bit humdrum too, I think.

The Swarm has been a #1 international bestseller in Europe and should do well in the United States as well I would expect, if it can find that niche of folks willing to read a very long novel for a very good ending. It’s length will really be its only detractor since the content is brilliant even if a little hard to get into the groove. But as pieces of the alien puzzle fall together it really picks up speed and will capture your mind.

“The Swarm” by Frank Schatzing
Translated by Sally-Ann Spencer
Copyright © 2004 by Verlag Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Koln
English translation Copyright © 2006 by Sally-Ann Spencer
ISBN: 0-06-081326-1
Published by HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Contact Information:
Harper Collins Publishers
Post: 10 E. 53rd St, New York, NY, 10022, USA
Phone: (212) 207-7000
Fax: (212) 207-7973

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