Seeds for the Swarm

English language

Published Nov. 29, 2023 by Stelliform Press.

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4 stars (1 review)

Rylla McCracken dreams of escaping her family's trailer in the Dust States to go to college, but on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, her mother demands she drop out of school to work for Lockburn chemical refinery instead. When Rylla learns Lockburn is planning to dam the Guadalupe River—the last flowing water in Texas—she defies her mother to protest in the state capital. The protest ends in disaster, but her ensuing viral infamy gains Rylla an acceptance to the mysterious Wingates University.

At Wingates, Rylla befriends a diverse group of students, all working on new technologies to save the planet. Besides mountains of homework, Rylla struggles with guilt for leaving her brother behind in the Dust, where tensions with the Lush States are escalating towards civil war. Succeeding at Wingates seems like Rylla’s best chance to help her family, until she uncovers a terrible secret about the school’s billionaire …

1 edition

reviewed Seeds for the Swarm by Sim Kern


4 stars

Rylla is kind of the worst, but in like, a way that I think may be intentional. She's on a journey like Candide, and similarly you spend most of the book thinking "No! You dumbass, what are you doing?!", etc. All the other characters mostly introduce and weigh the merits of tons of different solutions to the earth dying, but I think you can really tell which ones get the book's stamp of approval. I think the author of this and the authors of Half Earth Socialism would get in a fight, because this book seems to lean into banking on ridiculous tech "solutions" that probably will never materialize and might easily cause more harm than good. But I don't know nothing about nothing, so maybe I read into it wrong.

EDIT: I thought about it and I think I was wrong. The primitivists were a valid critique and the …