The ZOMBEE Project by Allison Mulder

This is the next short story in the Event Horizon 2017 collection of short stories highlighting authors who are eligible for the 2017 Campbell award for best new writer.

Published: March 2, 2017 in EscapePod (you can either read or listen to the story for free at the link)

Genre: science fiction

Setting: near future, the United States

Summary: A team of scientists is assembled by Dr. Jensen to work on one of the world’s most pressing problems – the collapse of the honeybee population. The scientists create a substance that will revive a bee after it dies, allowing it to continue to function for a time. However, they need to tweak the formula so it doesn’t revive humans after they’ve been stung. Great care is taken within the facility to prevent stings, but one of the scientists is stung early in the project. Eventually, the team devises a successful formula and the bees are the released into the wild.

Final thoughts: This story really falls into the “speculative fiction” side of science fiction, because I can see the author thinking, how are we going to deal with the loss of bees? What if the bees can be reanimated after they’ve died from whatever stresser? Wouldn’t that make for an interesting story? And it did. The story was heavy on the science side of science fiction as well, with lots of tests being run and iterations to the formula. You don’t have to know much about science, but I could see the science culture shining through in the story. In the end, we see Dr. Jensen show how much she cares for all of her team members by providing them a personalized packet describing their treatment in the event they were stung by a treated bee. Overall, an enjoyable story.

Title comes from: It was the unofficial name of the program, which the program director hated, but always seemed to magically appear on the white board.

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