Charlie and I wrote this sequel to our novella Jury Service as a kind of bookend, and published the two together as a fixup we called The Rapture of the Nerds, a title we nicked off of Ken McLeod.
The ant-colony has taken the entire Atlantic coast of the US, has marched on Georgia and west to the Mississippi. It is an anarchist colony, whose females lay eggs without regard for any notional Queen, and it has entered its eighth year of life, which is middle-aged for a normal colony, but may be just the beginning for the Hypercolony.
The God-botherers have no treaty with the ants, but have come to view them as another proof of the impending end of the world. Anything that is not contained in chink-free, seamless plastic and rock is riddled in ant-tunnels within hours. They’ve learned to establish airtight seals around their homes and workplaces, to subject themselves to stinging insecticide showers before clearing a vestibule, to listen for the tupperware burp whenever they seal their children in their space-suits and send them off to Bible classes.
The ants have eaten their way through most of the nematode species beneath the soil, compromised all but the most plasticized root-systems of the sickening flora (the gasoline refining forests are curiously symbiotic with the colony — anarchist supercolonies like living cheek-by-mouth-part with a lot of hydocarbons). They’ve eaten the bee-hives and wasp-nests, and they’ve laid waste to any comestible not tinned and sealed, leaving the limping Americans with naught but a few billion tons of processed food to eat before their supply bottoms out.
The American continent is a fairy tale that the cloudmind tells itself whenever it doubts its collective decision to abandon humanity. The left-behinds there spent their lives waiting for an opportunity to pick up a megaphone and organize crews with long poles to go digging through the ruins of civilization for tinned goods. Presented with their opportunity in the aftermath of the Geek Rapture, they are happy as evangelical pigs in shit — plenty to rail against, plenty of fossil fuel, plenty of firearms.
What more could they possibly need?