Empire of the Ants
Written by: Bernard Werber
Reviewed by: Brad Williamson
Genre: Science-Fiction / Adventure
Interweaving two narratives spanning multiple species, “Empire of the Ants” tells the story of a mysterious scientist and the descendants who inherit his knowledge while also detailing the incredible adventure of a small group of ants who risk everything to further their civilization.
The juxtaposition of the alien narratives, along with the scientific and realistic descriptions from the ants’ perspectives, hammers home the strangeness that is the animal kingdom. Within this strangeness, however, is depicted a real chance to understand, work together, maybe even one day to merge with those outside one’s species.
At first glace “Empire of the Ants” is a spiritual successor to “Animal Farm” and “Watership Down”, and maybe an inspiration for Adrian Tchaikovsky’s “Children of Time” as well, but it’s so much more; it’s a first contact story. It’s also a social commentary on humanity’s inability to look beyond ourselves to recognize we may not be the center of everything. Not to mention it’s an exciting and well-written adventure story. It’s all of these things, and more.
It’s not a perfect book, but it’s original and fresh even now as it turns 30 years old this year. Werber isn’t as popular in the United States as he is in Europe and Asia, but it’s about time for more people to learn his name and read his stories. Recommended for fans of almost anything; this may not become your favorite book, but everyone will find something within it to enjoy.