One of the best sf short stories I have read, ex-college jounalism instructor George R.R. Martin proves with 'The Sandkings' that teachers of writing can do as well as teach. He won the Nebula Best Novelette of 1979 with this work, and it has been anthologised by sf doyen Frank Herbert (Nebula Winners 15). A powerful tale, it has been admired by top writers in the genre for its effectiveness and economical technique.
This dark morality play has an unfortunate main character who has neglected to feed his alien pet menagerie. They starve to death. Only the puppy-eating vulture-like shambler survives, as he rather profits by this sad process. So our man needs a replacement, something unusual, something, well...special. He buys a set of four nests of alien insects, a sort of beetle-ant. They are indeed entertaining: naturally warlike and just barely psionically hive-mind aware. In short, they know who feeds them and worship that being in their own humble but unique way. Unwisely, he encourages their already natural warring nature. The nature of the outcome is predictable but the actuality is a most horrible shock.
This report prepared by Michael JR Jose