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Locusts

Novel by Guy N Smith (England) 1979.

Alan Alton and family move into the Shropshire hills to run a smallholding. One item that they take with them is completely forgotten in the hassle, namely a crate of peaches sent by an American relative, which also happens to contain a few Pennsylvanian locusts. Joining these are more locusts which flew north into the country due to the prolonged heatwave. Soon these few reproduce into many, into huge swarms which start devouring whatever they can find, and Britain wakes up to a state of emergency.

In the first of a run of really good novels, Guy Smith shamelessly pinches the plot to a previous novel, Bats Out of Hell, changes the foe, researches his subject and generally improves the result no end. This one really does shine, especially in comparison to Bats Out of Hell, which is essentially the same novel. Here there is far more in the way of credibility, due mainly to a more carefully constructed backdrop; and the characters seem more real and three-dimensional, probably due to Smith living on, running and coping with the problems of a smallholding himself. There are many such disaster novels on the market, most pretty terrible, some surprisingly excellent. Quite a few of these latter have sprung from the prolific pen of Guy N Smith; this is definitely one of them, and possibly the best such novel he has written. Essential for fans and really pretty damn vital for everyone else.

Incidentally, some collectors may find it interesting that this was the first of the Hamlyn paperback range to have its first issue released in two different covers. This was due to the initial cover being particularly poor and not well received by the book-buying public, so it was quickly altered. Locusts was followed in this respect by Gary Brandner's Death Walkers, Glenn Chandler's The Sanctuary, Hardy and Shaffer's The Wicker Man, and Guy Smith's own Manitou Doll.


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