I finished Killer Pine at lunch today. It was not good, but mercifully short. The plot was pretty similar to the previous book; Mathew Dilke is removed from his post heading up the training of an army of “micro men” to investigate a problem in the pine forests of British Columbia. It seems that there’s an unknown blight afflicting lumber trees in Canada and the northern United States. Of course the best way to deal with this is to send Dilke, his girlfriend (the “negress” Hyacinthe, whom he rescued in the previous book), and a newly-miniaturized scientist by the unlikely name of Jonathan Butt, out into the middle of the BC forest and see what they can find. Amazingly, they find something. I’m going to give away the plot here, because I want to discourage as many people as possible from ever reading this book.
It turns out that mini-Russian spies have set up a base inside of a pine tree. Inside of the tree they’ve built a high-tech base and are raising colonies of flying termites. They use Pavlovian techniques to train the termites (coincidentally, the scientist training them is named Pavlov) and once they have enough, they spray all of the termites with a special virus that kills pine trees, and release them. They then, I suppose, fly to other pine trees and infect them with the virus, or something. The thought seems to be that this will undermine the “Monopoly Capitalist” economy and pave the way for communist world control. Maybe I’m just cynical, but to me it sounds like the most absurd plan in the history of plans.
At least there’s only one more book in this series. I am now reading Poul Anderson’s Fire Time, and enjoying it.
Finally, Killer Pine did have one wonderful small section… actually just one really good word, but it did make me laugh over lunch, so I will share it with you all: (click for bigger)