Telling The Bees (NP Novella #11) by Emma K. Leadley (book review).

‘Telling The Bees’ opens at lunchtime on 14th August 2035 with Sarah surveying her morning’s work on her farmstead. She has weeded multiple vegetable patches. It’s a farmstead because it’s not big enough to be a farm and she lives there happily alone. Then two strangers turn up, Brea and Blake, and tell her that they were once a ‘throuple’, even to the extent of sharing a ‘hivemind’. Sarah, then named Becca, disappeared and took on this new identity.

Now her friends have found her. Unfortunately, so have the corporate soldiers of HexaMediCo who arrive shortly after. Sarah/Becca has to flee her farmstead and her old life to save herself and find out about her even older life. She used to work on memory implants. Clearly, she did a job on herself.

Telling the bees is, we’re told, an old European custom in which bees are told of important events in their keeper’s lives. The old, empty beehive on Sarah’s farmstead is important in the story because it contains a hidden memory cube. As Sarah learns more of her past, we’re taken on a fast-paced adventure story with an evil corporation, a ruthless henchman thereof, family troubles and a solid Science Fiction theme. What more could you ask?

The theme of memory wiping and memory implants is an old one in SF but is not less frightening for that, at least to me. I recently saw an Adam Curtis documentary on BBC i-player which showed how the CIA had worked with psychiatrists back in the 1960s to experiment with turning humans into blank slates. They succeeded. What they couldn’t do was implant fresh memories to create a whole new persona. In ‘Telling The Bees’ that is now possible.

I was drawn to review this novella by its theme of hive minds, recalling ‘Hellstrom’s Hive’ by Frank Herbert which awed and terrified me when young and who doesn’t love a Borg? It was disappointing that the ‘hivemind’ here consisted only of three people, not really a hive by my reckoning. However, they were nice people and the story was easy to read and entertaining so I didn’t mind a bit. ‘Telling The Bees’ is another success in the ongoing history of Newcon Press novellas.

Eamonn Murphy

August 2023

(pub: Newcon Press. 79 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 9.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-914953-53-8)

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Eamonn Murphy

Eamonn Murphy reviews books for sfcrowsnest and writes short stories now and then. Website:

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