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Hellstrom's Hive

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  2,086 ratings  ·  89 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 nightm
Paperback, 336 pages
Published April 3rd 2007 by Tor Books (first published January 1st 1973)
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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
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
....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
Sep 11, 2014 Thomas rated it 2 of 5 stars
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
Gilbert M.
Images from this novel have stayed vivid in my memory for more than thirty years since. 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 th
Alan Fricker
A brilliant piece of pulp sci fi. Sex! Violence! Ideas!
for its idea and its transferring of a 'scientific' concept a different context 4 stars

Long story short: I liked it for the ideas but not for its literary value:

In fact, I found reading it tedious: as with Dune (though it was less pronounced in the first volume of the series) I struggle with Herbert's political, economical and philosophical ejaculations which can randomly sway from interesting to the ramblings of a madman to irrelevant or non-sensical.

And, also as with Dune, I find the character
Cian Beirdd
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
In some ways Hellstrom's Hive reminded me of Heinlein's The Puppet Masters. It's about a secret agency battling an invasion and there's lots of nudity. The story is decent enough, although a bit of a potboiler. What's intriguing is my sympathy went with the invaders. I'm not sure if Herbert intended that or not. I guess the book was inspired by The Hellstrom Chronicle, a 1971 documentary about insects. Herbert imagines a group of humans working to pattern their society off a hive society.
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
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
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
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
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
Bridie  Knight
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
Herbert did present some interesting ideas in this book, despite the fact they are far-fetched for a novel set near the time of its writing in the early 1970s. The story ranges from OK to pretty good in various parts. But the characterization is poor, and there are some ridiculous elements, such as hitting two human targets out of four quick shots at a range of well over one hundred yards.
Randy Tucker
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
Glenn Schmelzle
A scenario with humans that have adopted an insect's ways and quietly amassed themselves in large numbers. No one on earth suspects anything, except a paranoid US government agency whose Intel has picked up something strange on an Oregon farm. As they engage in a chess game for who will dominate, both sides show their strengths/weaknesses and revulsion at how the other species lives. Not a ton of action, more of a reflection on how species survive.
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
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
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
Noah W
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
Interesting ideas, but the execution is lacking. I know some of the characters are supposed to be repulsive, but once the point is made, I wish Herbert had moved on to further the story rather than beat the reader over the head with more and more repulsiveness.
Alex S
I found Hellstrom's Hive to be a fantastic and gripping read, if something of a slow starter. Full of unexpected twists and turns, this is a dark, disturbing and compelling tale guaranteed to leave the reader in a state of unease. Brilliantly morbid!
Katheryn Bailey
This book is one of the most disturbing books I have ever read - unforgettable! It is also one of the best I have ever read. All Frank Herbert's books are. I wish his son would have inherited his intellect because I miss him very much...
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
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
As usual, it's always neat to read Herbert's older works to see influences on Dune, but the book didn't hold up too well as a whole otherwise.
Montgomery Webster
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.
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
More about Frank Herbert...
Dune (Dune Chronicles, #1) Dune Messiah (Dune Chronicles, #2) Children of Dune (Dune Chronicles, #3) The Great Dune Trilogy  God Emperor of Dune (Dune Chronicles, #4)

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“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
“From Hellstrom’s Hive Manual. The significant evolutionary achievement of the insects, more than a hundred million years ago, was the reproductive neuter. This fixed the colony as the unit of natural selection and removed all previous limits on the amount of specialization (expressed as caste differences) that a colony could tolerate. It is clear that if we vertebrates can take the same route, our individual members with their vastly larger brains will become incomparably superior specialists. No other species will be able to stand against us, ever—not even the old human species from which we will evolve our new humans.” 1 likes
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