Author Topic: EP565: The Zombee Project 3.0  (Read 7295 times)


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on: March 04, 2017, 01:24:15 AM
EP565: The Zombee Project 3.0

AUTHOR: Allison Mulder
NARRATOR: Ibba Armancas
HOST: Divya Breed


Jensen brought the job offer to each of them in person, like no one did anymore. She poached them from the best labs and the best apiaries, all over the world. Put everything she knew on the table, in out-of-the-way cafés and fine-but-nothing-fancy hotel rooms and home kitchens which smelled strongly of coffee and not much else.

She handpicked them. She made that very clear. Like she was assembling heroes, forming a unit–a rescue unit, with a crucial task.

At that point, it wasn’t recruitment. It was a higher calling.

“It’s not legal,” Jensen told each of them. “But no one who could enforce that knows about it.”

None of them cared. They signed Jensen’s contracts and confidentiality agreements.

And from then on they were all members of Jensen’s team.

Nothing less and nothing more.


Jensen’s team wasn’t ready when the first resurrected bees began twitching in their wire-covered frames.

The team had gone through so many cases of small, still bodies sent by the collection branch of the project–fresh bees, long-dead bees, solitary, bumble, and honey. Pollinators, honey-makers. Stinging and stingless and every one of them dead from Colony Collapse Disorder, and a dozen other hypothesized causes, and more unidentified threats besides.

Jensen’s team was made up of professionals, happily married to their work, caring tenderly for the in-laws that were their safety protocols. But they got used to failure, administering the compound to insect corpses that stayed corpses. Observing only decomposition during the dictated test periods. Burning the samples to cinders, then receiving new batches of bees for testing.

Jensen’s team got so used to failure that they got used to other things, like neglecting their bulky, white protective suits when not working directly with the dead bees. They filled out paperwork and cleaned beakers in quiet corners of the lab, bare-faced, chatting with the team members who handled the compound and the corpses at the far table.

When the first stiff, disoriented honey bee wriggled back to life and slipped from a surprised scientist’s forceps, several team members across the room were not wearing their protective suits.

“Got it,” he called. “I’ve got this one–”

He deftly swept the runaway bee from midair and–no alternatives in reach–cupped the beaker against his own gloved hand.

A wince. Wide eyes.

He slid beaker and bee onto one of the lab tables, waving a teammate forward. “Take it.”

The wire bee veil didn’t hide his colleague’s horror. “Did it–”

“Quarantine.” He edged to the door, heart racing. “I need to quarantine myself. But it’ll be fine. Just keep the others contained. Everything will be fine.”

Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!

Scuba Man

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Reply #1 on: March 06, 2017, 12:05:19 AM
This episode was a strong one (as it buzzed out the gate)... 
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
I'm a big fan of pollinators... even the ones that are not all fuzzy and cute. Houseflies UNITE... the skunk cabbages of the world need you!

I'm a stand-up philosopher until 2024. Then, I move onto my next gig. I'm a gentleman forester and farmer. I also enjoy jumping into Lake Huron and panicking the fish.

Sandra M. Odell

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Reply #2 on: March 06, 2017, 05:42:53 AM
Very strong story.  Great intro, sliding into a terrific finish.  Nice start for ARTEMIS 3.

Frank Evans

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Reply #3 on: March 07, 2017, 06:02:39 PM
This was unique. Given how prevalent zombie fiction has been over the past, uh, forever, it's hard to come up with something fresh to say. I think this story does that. I like the concept and I like tying in real world implications and applications of a zombie virus. I thought the narration was well done as well.

That being said, I didn't have quite the same reaction that others have had. I left the story feeling like it was good, but disappointed because I felt like it had just missed out on being really good. It felt like there was the potential there for something even better, although I can't put my finger on what was missing. Something about the way it was written/presented left me with a sense of detachment throughout that made it hard to get invested in the story and the characters. Maybe a version written in first person from the eyes of one of the team members would have scratched that particular itch for me. I'm probably in the minority on this, and, regardless, I really enjoyed listening (and reading again afterwards). Thanks for this.     


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Reply #4 on: March 15, 2017, 03:22:39 AM
I really liked this story, and the note at the beginning that what was going on was "not legal" really hooked me. Is it just the disposable nature of the human test subjects that is illegal, or is it illegal to tamper with the dead bees? I wanted to know how this project had been funded - was it a secret government plot that, while bad, was deemed necessary? Did a private investor see the opportunity to save humanity and take it upon themselves?
This story engaged me, though it left me with a lot of questions about the world.


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Reply #5 on: March 21, 2017, 09:15:59 AM
My understanding is that by the end of the story they had moved beyond reanimating bees and were starting a project to reanimate humans. At some point they realized that they could go beyond saving the bees and give humans (well, some humans) extremely long life spans. Playing God big time, as it were.


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Reply #6 on: March 21, 2017, 07:23:47 PM

It's a pity we don't find out WHERE the get they get the secret sauce that caused the reanimation. 

Herbert West.

Which of course pulled from the scientific reanimation via more alchemical processes set out by the original SciFi novel, Frankenstein. Neither of which was really explicit to what was going on, although in those cases it was a warning and a deliberate destruction of the data so that it could not be reproduced.

I think this one was a lot more focused on the scientific method coupled with the team and motivations, rather than clearly identifying the apocalypse scenario.

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Reply #7 on: March 22, 2017, 07:19:05 PM
Always love stories that use the bee crisis. And zombies? This one was pure love for me. Unexpectedly touching at the end.

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Reply #8 on: April 18, 2017, 01:53:17 PM
I have to agree with Frank Evans. Great idea, but I think what the story missed were more sensory details. Did the zombees have any different behaviors? How did they look? Did they smell? Was their honey safe? The interpersonal stuff had good details but the minor characters were still a bit flat, imo.
Also, those volunteers must have been getting HUGELY compensated.


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Reply #9 on: July 04, 2017, 07:33:07 AM
What I liked the most in this story was the dynamics of a dedicated team of scientists working hard under really intense pressure. That's also why I found the whole self-sacrifice and 'oh-my-god-my-daughter-is-here' angles unnecessary and a little tired. Too easy a way to reach for emotional connection that was already there. Otherwise the characters felt very believable as those kind of people who would work at such a project.


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Reply #10 on: July 27, 2017, 10:16:46 PM
Zombie story beginning with good intentions it seems, save the bees!
I liked that inevitable zombie apocalypse was not depicted here.
I didn't like that it was a little vague on why exactly that was the only way to save the bees.

Narration was excellent.


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Reply #11 on: October 05, 2017, 06:39:07 PM
I found it interesting that no one was referred to by name except Jensen and her daughter until the end scene with the files. I'm not sure whether that was meant to underscore the point that each individual technician was important to the project or to counteract it and suggest they were expendable.

Sometimes I have a hard time with stories that reveal expositionary information in drips and drabs along the way, wanting to go back and re-read/listen once I know what they're actually talking about, but not really being interested enough or entertained enough to spend the time doing so. This was one of those for me. I feel like if I'd known what the point of the project was from the beginning, I might have gotten more enjoyment out of the story.


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Reply #12 on: December 04, 2017, 05:31:16 PM
I really should have liked this story. It has lots of cool about it; really, bees and zombies!! But it failed to draw me in (possibly because of the slow release of information, as esanderson said). And I wasn't invested in the characters. At the end, when Jensen comes in with her big speech and gesture, I was like, meh.  Also, it felt like it was more of an excerpt from a larger story than a story on it's own.


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Reply #13 on: October 11, 2018, 05:12:18 PM
I did end up reading this again and enjoyed it much more. It also made me want there to be an extension or sequel about what happens next.