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Hellstrom's Hive

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  2,494 Ratings  ·  110 Reviews
America is a police state, and it is about to be threatened by the most hellish enemy in the world: insects.

When the Agency discovered that Dr. Hellstrom's Project 40 was a cover for a secret laboratory, a special team of agents was immediately dispatched to discover its true purpose and its weaknesses—it could not be allowed to continue. What they discovered was a nightma
Paperback, 336 pages
Published April 3rd 2007 by Tor Books (first published September 1st 1973)
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Jul 20, 2014 Lyn rated it really liked it
As with most works from Frank Herbert, Hellstrom’s Hive is not only very good on the surface, it also works well on many different levels. And like most of his writing, all excellent, it is difficult to assess this work without references to his greatest work, Dune.

First published in 1973, four years after Dune Messiah and three years before Children of Dune, many themes of Herbert’s Dune series can be seen in Hive, particularly a fascination with genetics and a dynamic econo-socialization. A fa
Jan 17, 2008 Kirt rated it really liked it
It involves the encounter between normal Americans in the "modern day" and a strange, cultish society that has been secretly living among them since the 19th century, the Hive.

A lot of major Herbert themes are here, in particular science and human genetic potential, as well as encounter with an "alien" that's actually just another human culture.

While the people of the Hive may have settled down in the US since the 1800s, they've existed (in small numbers) as a secret society for at least a hundr
Mar 15, 2017 Jay rated it did not like it
Audiobook sounds like someone reading Wind in the Willows. Unfortunately, this is a stakeout: lacks tension.
Nov 08, 2013 Rob rated it really liked it
....Despite an ending that could have been better I enjoyed Hellstrom's Hive a lot the second time around. Seeing where Herbert got his inspiration did significantly change my perception of the novel so I guess it was worth watching the rather poor movie after all. I still think The Dosadi Experiment is his best non Dune novel but this one is not that far behind. It takes the ecological awareness that can be found in many of his novels to a new level and the creepiness Herbert works into it make ...more
Aug 21, 2014 Thomas rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Noone
Recommended to Thomas by:
I listened to this book as an audio book.
The concept is good but delivered in an arcane manner that is hopefully buried in the 1950's. The book can be read as a study of that era's mindset but that is all, in my opinion.

The skill of Frank Herbert as a writer is chrystal clear and the narrator does a superb job in speaking it to us.
Unfortunately in this book Frank Herbert used that skill in what I guess is an attempt to gain a larger public, trying to write a regular spy thriller for the 50's wit
Richard Pebbleston
Oct 08, 2015 Richard Pebbleston rated it it was amazing
An insidious, well thought out story that is well written, creepy, properly gripping and thought provoking. Explores interesting themes such as human evolution and the concept of a Human Hive and - 'wild humans' (lol). This is one of the most underrated and excellent non-Dune Frank Herbert books and proves yet again why he was (and still is) one of the all-time sci-fi greats -- and that his brilliance was not limited to the Dune series :)
Montgomery Webster
Jan 11, 2014 Montgomery Webster rated it liked it
Shelves: scifi
Captivating concept, but poorly executed. Still ends up being a good book, but the secret agent characters and event order detract from the insightful evolution the Hive represents.
Finding this book in the library revealed to me that Herbert has a lot more books to read: I was under the mistaken impression that he only wrote the Dune series. Hopefully, the rest are better than this.
Alan Fricker
Jan 22, 2015 Alan Fricker rated it really liked it
Shelves: library
A brilliant piece of pulp sci fi. Sex! Violence! Ideas!
Dec 13, 2016 Ben rated it really liked it
Shelves: classic-sci-fi
I am being a bit generous here with the four stars, but I still think this book deserves more than a simple three stars of 'I liked it'. Some good classic SF from a very accomplished author. There is no doubt that Herbert could write and it is great to read such a well written book which even with the dating nature of it and the not quite so believable nature of the book today, still was gripping and engaging and had real characters and a plot which I did not know for sure where it was going to ...more
Richard Scheel
Feb 26, 2017 Richard Scheel rated it liked it
Not Dune.
Jan 28, 2017 Abe rated it it was amazing
Apr 18, 2012 Xian rated it liked it
Most people first encounter Herbert through Dune (and all the subsequent books), and some of them go on to read his other stuff. I guess that makes me some sort of bastard child, seeing as I did read some of the Dune books before this. But I read them in my (very) early teens, and don't remember much of them. For sure, they were more entertainment than tomes bursting with ideas at the time.

Seeing other people's high regard for Dune, I feel that I owe the books a revisit with the maturity and wis
Dec 08, 2008 Reinhold rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Vor einigen hunderten Jahren begann eine Gruppe von Menschen den staatenbildenden Insekten nachzueifern und gründete - von der Umwelt vollkommen unbemerkt - einen Stock. Das Leben in diesem Stock ist für uns Menschen vollkommen unvorstellbar, denn es bedeutet die vollkommene Aufgabe jeglicher Individualität und die vollständige Unterordnung unter die Bedürfnisse der Gemeinschaft. Herbert zeichnet eine Gesellschaft die genau so aufgestellt ist. Es ist eine Gesellschaft, die vielleicht in der Tat ...more
Keith Davis
Jul 23, 2016 Keith Davis rated it liked it
A group of government agents are sent to investigate a mysterious farm in Oregon. The farm is a front for a massive cult attempting to build a society modeled on an insect hive, oh and they are also building a super weapon capable of destroying the world.

As a reader you naturally want to support the humans against the bug people, but Herbert goes out of his way to portray the agents in completely negative terms. The agents never experience a positive emotion, they are all driven by anger, fear,
Mar 20, 2013 Jos rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
As a teenager, SF stories were my favorite. I read lots of classic SF from the 50's-70's. Nowadays, I reread some of them and others I have missed at that time. Mostly, it's disappointing with the stories strictly being a product of their time. In hindsight, the science part often is severely outdated, the ideas only worked in the context of the past. Character development is negligible in this genre anyway. What remains, is nostalgia.

In this light, Hellstrom's Hive is a positive exception. I ha
Mar 30, 2013 Andrewcharles420 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf12
A[n unnamed] secret government agency gets word of a powerful project that may be a weapon... from the apparent commune of a reclusive entomologist film-maker. The teams they send to investigate disappear without a trace. By the time they do get an agent inside, the weapon is operational...

A very intelligent exploration of biology, sociology, and ecology! Hellstrom's hive is literally that--a human colony shaped and programmed like a hive of insects. Pheromones and other chemical clues keep dif
Jan 13, 2011 Aishe rated it it was ok
While the idea itself is quite clever, I guess my biggest preoccupation was that I kept being reminded of Dune, which I liked, but this is not Dune, and it wasn't supposed to be Dune. I suppose the author, Frank Herbert, sees his books as a way to inspire Utopia, not unlike the main character, Hellstrom, who seeks with his entomological films to prepare the way for the coming of his people's Hive to Swarm. In any case, after reading this I got the distinct and prickling feeling that Herbert was ...more
Gilbert Stack
Mar 27, 2014 Gilbert Stack rated it really liked it
Images from this novel have stayed vivid in my memory for more than thirty years. I reread it recently to see how it stood the test of time and was quite pleased.

Hellstrom is the leader of a secret community which has modeled itself after insect populations. The more you learn about this community, the less human the denizens seem. The hive is now threatened with discovery by the outside world as a secret government agency attempts to learn what is happening in the valley which conceals the hive
Aug 06, 2015 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
If you like your sci-fi pulpy and unapologetic, you'll enjoy Herbert's extrapolation from the 1971 mockumentary THE HELLSTROM CHRONICLE, which takes the main character, Dr. Nils Hellstrom, and makes him the head of an underground society patterning itself after insect behavior and plotting world domination, while also fending off discovery by a clandestine government agency attempting to find out what Hellstrom is hiding and exploit it.

Word of warning: It's written as a brainy, two-fisted tale -
Bridie  Knight
Mar 04, 2009 Bridie Knight rated it it was ok
Shelves: spec-fic-scifi
It took me a while to get into this book, Herbert seemed to be stuck on the minutiae of the ego struggles of his main characters and building the framework of the two divergent civilisations but I was glad of it as the book progressed - after a while the mystery developed until I got a more broad picture of the scenario - the secret, strange evolution of übermensch inspired by the insect kingdom, the agency that stumbles across their existence not knowing or even suspecting the truth of what the ...more
Jun 28, 2016 Ross rated it liked it
Having never read anything by Frank Herbert I wasn't sure what to expect. I'd never even realised when I picked the book up that he was the author of Dune - something I'd grown up with on account of my uncle and cousins courtesy of the Amiga. I definitely judged the book by its cover, it had the look of classic sci-fi and on that basis alone it stirred something in me.

The story is pretty well paced although I found it tricky to relate to the characters. Each one felt although they had something
Randy Tucker
May 14, 2014 Randy Tucker rated it really liked it
You know how people have their favorite author? Frank has to be at the top of my list. I listen to a lot of audio books while I run and travel. I have listened to many of his books and I have loved every minute (with the exception of the white plague, that was horrible). My favorite has to be Santaroga Barrier. Similarly to Santaroga barrier, Hellstrom's Hive has all the elements that made me love Santaroga. There is a secret that is pretty shocking and causes you to think and the reader is let ...more
Apr 17, 2011 Michael rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Admittedly, I am a Frank Herbert fanboy.

The Good: Frank is always good at the big concepts and all his trademarks are here. Focus on ecological impact, genetics, evolution of the human species. What's interesting here, as opposed to say the Dune Chronicles or the Dosadi Experiment, is the breeding/forced evolution is absolutely horrifying. I would go so far as to say this is Frank's horror novel. The breeding program and evolution of society is taken along the lines of insects, likely bees I wou
Rebecca Hill
Nov 25, 2011 Rebecca Hill rated it really liked it
I was really excited to try another story by Frank Herbert and while there is a plethora of characters, theories and possibilities it is no Dune. Most of the characters are developed exquisitely and the settings come alive with dust, wind and scents through out the book. Good banter between key players, but no one character really stood out from the others as terribly exciting or important. The science fiction aspect, what can humans do to survive their shelf destructive nature, was unique to my ...more
Noah W
Dec 13, 2012 Noah W rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
Frank Herbert does an excellent job in writing realistic science fiction. Everything seems well researched and 39 years later is very feasible.

Like The White Plague, Hellstrom's Hive could make for some great conversation:
- Should humans imitate insects?
- Are humans capable of enhancing various senses?
- Should genetic and hormone modification be pursued in depth?
- Could humans build massive underground colonies?

The story shifts back and forth in classis Herbert style and a non-decisive ending a
Dec 22, 2013 Eric rated it really liked it
I bought this book on a lark because we have some dear friends named Hellstrom and it's written by Frank Herbert so, how bad could it be, right? Turns out, it is quite good. I don't see the point in hashing over the story in a review. I'll just say that Mr. Herbert creates a believable work of fiction from the rather implausible concept of an insect race developing technology and genetic engineering in parallel to us on earth. He advances the story well using the point of view of multiple charac ...more
Mar 22, 2013 Emma rated it really liked it
A spy agency with its own problems is sent out out to check out a farm. This farm is owned by a world famous insect documentary maker. The town near the farm don't say much about Hellstorm's farm. No mere human really knows whats happening deep underneath. Two spies are A whole team is sent in to find the truth. We watch two spies watch the happening on this strange farms. But the whole time they are there they find them selves getting more and more nervous. But when night falls the Hellstorm's ...more
Mar 30, 2012 Traummachine rated it liked it
Since from everything I've read Dune is the pinnacle of Herbert's career, I decided to start with something else. If the above is true, I didn't want everything else I read to be a disappointment.

Hellstrom's Hive is about an insect-like community of humans. The members of the Hive have a very clinical, detached feel that's genuinely creepy. Herbert makes these villains ruthlessly practical, sacrificing their own with the remorse and hesitation of a queen bee. The secret agency trying to stop the
Cian Beirdd
Mar 20, 2014 Cian Beirdd rated it it was amazing
In an interview, Herbert once said that he had thought of the worst kind of society we could imagine as we were in the 1970s. Then he made them the good guys for this book. That juxtaposition creates an interesting tension throughout the story as the reader finds himself disgusted by the "Hive" but revolted by the government's behavior and its self-serving members. The ending is an em passé between the two parties, and I for one found myself wondering which side I wanted to come out ahead.

The bo
Shira and Ari Evergreen
Sep 04, 2009 Shira and Ari Evergreen added it
Recommended to Shira and Ari by: got it free at Share Tompkins swap meet #4
Shelves: scifi
This was a campy, fun, quick read. The plot is fantastical and gross and at times hilarious. I've never read a book with so many naked people and sex in it that was so unsexy, even disgusting. It's the first book I've read by Herbert and it made me a little more excited about reading Dune - this book is nice because it's so short compared to his longer, more famous works. I don't want to give too much away so I'll just say it's very exciting and fast-paced, a geeky, environmentalist thriller. De ...more
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Frank Herbert was a critically acclaimed and commercially successful American science fiction author.

He is best known for the novel Dune and its five sequels. The Dune saga, set in the distant future and taking place over millennia, dealt with themes such as human survival and evolution, ecology, and the intersection of religion, politics, and power, and is widely considered to be among the classi
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“The words of Nils Hellstrom. There is another respect in which we must guard against becoming too much like the insects upon whom we pattern our design for human survival. The insect has been called a walking digestive tract. This is not without reason. To support his own life, an insect will consume as much as a hundred times his own weight each day—which to each of us would be like eating an entire cow, a herd of thirty each month. And as the insect population grows, each individual naturally needs more. To those who have witnessed the insect’s profligate display of appetite, the outcome is clear. If allowed to continue on his reproductive rampage, the insect would defoliate the earth. Thus, with our lesson from the insect, comes a clear warning. If the race for food is to be the deciding conflict, let no one say it came without this warning. From the beginning of time, wild humans have stood helpless, watching the very soil they nurtured give birth to a competitor that could outeat them. Just as we must not let our teacher the insect consume what we require for survival, we must not launch a similar rampage of our own. The pace of our planet’s growing cycle cannot be denied. It is possible for insects or for man to destroy in a single week what could have fed millions for an entire year.” 1 likes
“From the Hive Manual. The relationship between ecology and evolution is extremely close, deeply implicated in organic changes among a given animal population, and profoundly sensitive to the density of numbers within a given habitat. Our adaptations aim to increase the population tolerance, to permit a human density ten to twelve times greater than is currently considered possible. Out of this, we will get our survival variations.” 1 likes
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