R.I.P., Arthur Herzog III, the man who taught us to fear the Killer Bees

If you were alive in the 1970s and something freaked you the fuck out, it may well have been the work of Arthur Herzog III, who died yesterday. Killer bees and genetically-engineered stupidity plagues were among his enduring horrors.

Herzog, the son of a songwriter who cowrote many of Billie Holiday's most famous songs, was the author of The Swarm (1974), the tale of African killer bees swarming over the United States and eventually blotting out the Manhattan sky. He also wrote I.Q. 83, the story of a genetics team who accidentally create a virus that turns everybody into idiots. More recently, he's done a couple of science fiction short story collections, Body Parts and Beyond Sci-Fi, and a novel about a hidden community under the ice in Greenland, Icetopia. He also wrote a ton of non-fiction, including a groundbreaking work about nuclear disarmament, The War-Peace Establishment. The Swarm was made into a movie by Irwin Allen. On his website, Herzog said I.Q. 83 is being made into a movie by Dreamworks.

On his website, Herzog wrote a third person bio of himself, including the following:

Herzog feels he can best describe his life as a series of turning points:

* After writing some 18 stories for The New York Times Magazine in the short space of a year's time, he was offered a job at the magazine to be groomed for the prestigious job of editor. But the young Herzog's spirit for adventure overtook the desk job, and he declined the offer. Soon thereafter, he became the first person to visit and write about Angola when the Angolan rebels were under fire.

* After earning a masters degree in English literature at Columbia University, Herzog declined the chance at a doctorate, declaring an "aversion to both libraries and authority."

* And after mastering the art of non-fiction, he finally decided on a career devoted to fiction, wherein he created a new genre called "near in sci-fi," a fictional form that combines theoretical scientific phenomena with realism. He is termed the master of disaster.

You can read one of his gruesome stories, a severed-tongue tale called "Loose Tongue," here. Herzog died aged 83, of complications from a stroke. [New York Times]