It’s very easy to combine science fiction with horror. Whether you’re working with sentient artificial intelligence that’s hell-bent on control, or if you’ve got some weird, terrifying landscape that messes with the character’s minds, there’s always some kind of sci-fi fright to be had.
But, perhaps one of the most terrifying things that authors can do with science fiction is include bugs. Spiders, wasps, slugs–you name it! Creepy crawlies scare the bejeezus out of millions of people, so it’s always been a perfect topic for sci-fi horror stories.
We’ve collected some of the zanier sci fi books with insects in them, so it’s up to you if you want to pick them up to read before bed, or put them on the DON’T EVER READ list.
The Bees by Laline Paull
This is one of the more interesting, conceptual books on this list. Laline Paull crafts a sci-fi microcosm of a bee hive, where the main character is a worker bee. That’s right, Flora 717 is a sanitation worker, a drone responsible for cleaning up the walkways of the hive.
But, as her role starts to change, Flora 717 finds herself getting closer and closer to the Queen, and closer to uncovering dangerous hive secrets.
Paull’s book reads kind of like a story from Aliya Whiteley, but the unique take on the phrase “hive mind” makes this a fresh, interesting book. Not the conventional creepy crawlies you might have been expecting, but still worthy of a spot on this list.
Petal Storm by Paul Kidd
It’s quite possible that Laline Paull’s The Bees was a tip of the hat to Paul Kidd’s Petal Storm. While the hive metaphor isn’t as fleshed out, there’s still a distinct similarity in Petal Storm.
In this novel, the ancient civilization of The Hive is stumbling. They’re a warrior-class of bee-like humanoids, but their aging Queen will soon pass. Most of the novel revolves around this conflict, with court intrigue, skyborne battles, and assassinations. It’s a very inventive story, but it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
We can’t have a list of books with creepy crawlies without including this classic. This book was one of the first jaunts into the insect-humanoid genre (is that a genre?). It’s been a staple of English literature classes across the world for years, and it’s profoundly an early work of science fiction.
If you haven’t read The Metamorphosis, you should! It’s a fast read, with an engaging plot. The main character, Gregor Samsa, awakens one morning to find himself transformed into a giant insect, unable to communicate with his family. All sorts of madness ensues, and it’s a lesson in compassion if I’ve ever seen one.
Texas Chainsaw Mantis by Kevin Strange
This one had to be on the list simply because it’s so weird. Kevin Strange is known for writing, well, strange fiction.
Texas Chainsaw Mantis is a parody of the popular horror film, Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But, instead of people, the characters are all praying mantises. And if you know anything about the praying mantis, it’s that the females rip off the males’ heads after they are done mating with them.
The main character of this story is a mantis named Matthew, whose wife almost bites his head off and leaves him for dead. But Matthew brings himself out of the garden shed with his trusty chainsaw, intent on destruction.
It’s a bizarre premise, but a fun, quick read.
Slugs by Shaun Hutson
If you’ve ever seen the 1990 movie Arachnaphobia, then Slugs will be familiar. Published in 1982, Slugs follows a classic horror plot, with dozens of characters in a small town having different harrowing experiences with carnivorous slugs.
It takes the main character, Mike Brady, a good long time to figure out that these dangerous slugs are not only eating people, but poisoning them too. Slugs is a classic 80s horror novel, and definitely a throwback.