Leiningen Versus the Ants, a Short Story by Carl Stephenson. Leiningen Versus the Ants has ratings and 26 reviews. Gbolahan said: Read this some 25 years ago. Can’t remember where (a collection of short stories. Carl Stephenson creates a true monster tale in “Leiningen vs. the Ants,” and he intensifies the experience by writing in third-person omniscient point of view.

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It puts forward the ideal of a heroic individual fighting against evil the ants without help from a cowardly, self-interested public. Their frantic screams dumfounded the man at the weir. The plantation workers are frightened, Leiningen offers them full pay and allows them to leave.

Leiningen Versus the Ants

His skin began to creep; he loosened his collar. Anyone who thinks otherwise can draw his pay here and now and push off. Once these blighters turn tail, there’ll be plenty of work for everyone and higher wages all round. Issue spades to every man along the line facing the wood! Blinded, it had reeled in the madness of hideous torment straight into the ranks of its persecutors, and now the beast swayed to and fro in its death agony.

It takes place in the Brazilian rainforest on a coffee plantation as the owner tries to save the plantation from army ants. They’re not creatures you can fight–they’re an elemental–an ‘act of God! He recalls witnessing the ants once pick a downed stag clean to the “white bones” and he resolves not to die that way. Oct 07, Shelby Williams rated it really liked it.

A dispassionate observer would have estimated the odds against him at a thousand to one. He saw he was drawing appreciably nearer the weir–the distance grew less and less–sank to five hundred–three–two–one hundred yards. It encompassed three sides of the plantation like a huge horseshoe. Jun 04, KatNic rated it it was amazing. This was destined to be the scene of the outbreak of war between Leiningen’s brain and twenty square miles of life-destroying ants.

Yes, of course it was senseless–provided the defenders had an unlimited supply of petrol. Some parts were interesting, others just sucked. To ask other readers questions about Leiningen Versus the Antsplease sign up. Meanwhile an old Indian, who acted as medicine-man to the plantation workers, gave the bitten peon a drink he had prepared some hours before, which, he claimed, possessed the virtue of dissolving and weakening ants’ venom. When the ants reach his estate, Leiningen seals it by filling a moat that surrounds it on three sides, the fourth being a river.


Of the three great petrol cisterns near the house, one had already been half emptied by the constant withdrawals needed for the pumps during the fight at the water ditch.

He stooped forward and cautiously dropped into the ditch a stone which split the floating carpet and its living freight, to reveal a gleaming patch of petrol.

Leiningen Versus the Ants–Carl Stephenson ()

And any remaining ants trying to ascend the slope could be repulsed by petrol. The petrol sprinklers, hitherto used to destroy pests and blights on the plantation, were also brought into action. Frantic with pain, he almost plunged into the river. At first it seemed that the petrol trench would serve its purpose.

Leiningen Versus the Ants – Wikipedia

Leiningen accompanied him down to the river, where the Government launch was moored. Originally written for Esquire. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. I read this fun piece in the ‘s. These seemed to know their duty only too well, and lost no time accomplishing it. Then a violent flow of water at the original depth raced through the ditch, overwhelming leaves and ants, and sweeping them along.

I find Leiningen Versus the Ants to be an absolutely brilliant and entertaining story, especially when its political commentary is read with the benefit of history and the horrors that began to unfold soon after its publication. He reaches the dam controls and floods the plantation; this means the destruction of his year’s crop, but it will save his men, preserve the contents of his granaries and destroy the menace of the ants.

I liked it, and I’m interested in the fact it was published in He hadn’t a second to lose, but for life itself he could not have denied his curiosity the satisfaction of knowing how long the ants would take–for personal reasons, so to speak.


Another minute, and the river was pouring through the near-by gap in the breakwater. Trivia About Leiningen Versus The peons rushed to him, stripped off his clothes, tore away the ants from a body that seemed almost one open wound; in some paces the bones were showing. With a curse, he dropped the spade into the ditch; too late, they were already on his body. There seems to be some debate as to whether or not this story is in the public domain with at least one site claiming that it is, but after modest research I have concluded that it is not.

Something must be blocking the outflow pipe of the third and last cistern-a snake or a dead rat? The ranch house and outbuildings stood upon rising ground. He was about to set off, when the old Indian medicine man came up to him; he had a wondrous salve, he said, prepared from a species of chafer whose odor was intolerable to ants.

Then, when they learned through their scouts the nature of the obstacle, the two outlying wings of the army detached themselves from the main body and marched down the western and eastern sides of the ditch. The western section of the ditch ran along the edge of a tamarind wood, and the branches of some great trees reached over the water. The humor magazine National Lampoon parodied the story in a short story called “Leiningen and the Snails”, in which the title character faces a swarm of “army snails”, and has “merely three weeks” to think of a way to defend the plantation.

The ants were indeed mighty, but not so mighty as the boss. All seems lost, then Leiningen realizes that he could breach a dam, two miles away.

Lists with This Book. God, what a tthe, to be eaten alive like that! Dec 10, Deb O rah rated it really liked it.