The Golden Age of Science Fiction: “giANTS,” by Edward Bryant

The Golden Age of Science Fiction: “giANTS,” by Edward Bryant

Cover by John Sanchez
Cover by John Sanchez

The Nebula Award was created by the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) and first presented in 1966, when the award for Best Short Story was won by Harlan Ellison for “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman.” It has been given annually since then. Ed Bryant won the award in 1979 for his story “Stone” and again in 1980 for the story “giANTS,” the first time an author won the award back-to-back.

Ed Bryant’s “giANTS” is a strange work of almost fan fiction. It is set in a world in which them 1954 B movie Them! has taken on immense importance. Main character Paul Chavez dreams himself in the movie, with himself in the role of the protagonist, and upon waking has a difficult time separating reality from his dream. Chavez also finds himself the subject of a relentless reporter, Layne Bridgewell, who is seeking an interview with him, one he only begrudgingly gives.

It takes a while to determine the actual role of Them! in the story since it seems to be a film that Chavez and Bridgewell have both seen and are aware of. At the same time, there is definitely something occurring with insects throughout the world and Bridgewell has lost family to bees while Chavez’s wife was killed by fire ants.

It eventually turns out that rather than being the nightmare scenario Chavez fears, Them! provides the solutions to the problem of a world in which normal insects run amok. Bryant cleverly takes the biggest scientific inaccuracy of the film and turns it on his head, allowing Chavez to realize that creating a means of increasing the insects size is the fastest way to destroy them, due to the square-cube law.

Although the story is mostly just Chavez talking to Bridgewell, both of them share stories from their past, which has the effect of making “giANTS” more than just a couple of people talking. It slowly reveals the concept of the story and, although Bryant provides all the information the reader needs to know, he doesn’t answer all the questions he raises, leaving some of them up in the air, although not in a way that matters. The story implies an eventual ending, having put all the pieces in place to deal with the invasive insect activity.

Bryant’s competition for the Nebula Award in 1980 was Michael Bishop’s “Vernalfest Morning,” Orson Scott Card’s “Unaccompanied Sonata,” Tanith Lee’s “Red as Blood,” George R. R. Martin’s “The Way of Cross and Dragon,” and Joanna Russ’s “The Extraordinary Voyages of Amélie Bertrand.” “giANTS” was also nominated for the Hugo Award and came in second in the Locus poll.

Steven H Silver-largeSteven H Silver is a sixteen-time Hugo Award nominee and was the publisher of the Hugo-nominated fanzine Argentus as well as the editor and publisher of ISFiC Press for 8 years. He has also edited books for DAW, NESFA Press, and ZNB. He began publishing short fiction in 2008 and his most recently published story is “Webinar: Web Sites” in The Tangled Web. His most recent anthology, Alternate Peace was published in June. Steven has chaired the first Midwest Construction, Windycon three times, and the SFWA Nebula Conference 6 times, as well as serving as the Event Coordinator for SFWA. He was programming chair for Chicon 2000 and Vice Chair of Chicon 7.

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Adrian Simmons

Woah, I remember reading this waaaay back in like 1983 or something when I was in 6th or 7th grade. And I read it in English/reading class… and I swear I read it in the official book for the class.

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