Literature: Der Schwarm

Der Schwarm (English: The Swarm) is a 2004 novel by German author Frank Schätzing (who is also the author of Limit).

The plot: Sea life has gone crazy! Marine worms cause devastating tsunamis, whales attack ships, and crustaceans invade the coasts in order to infect everyone with deadly micro-organisms. All in all, the creatures of the ocean seem to be hell-bent on exterminating mankind. Scientists all around the world try to determine the reason for all these events, and of course hope to find a way to stop them. The main characters are maritime biologist Sigur Johanson and whale researcher Leon Anawak, who have to deal with human opposition and the maritime threat at the same time... In the end, a fringe theory by Johanson turns out to be true: Behind all this are the yrr, a hitherto unknown sentient species living in the depths of the ocean...
Contains examples of:
  • America Saves the Day: Defied. US government, through General Li, would rather attempt extermination of the Yrr to preserve American primacy even if it risks destroying mankind.
  • Animal Wrongs Group: The group around Greywolf, harassing whale watchers. But they disperse after the whales have gone postal.
  • Anyone Can Die: And most characters do.
  • Apocalypse How: The goal of the yrr.
  • Assassin Outclassin': Vanderbilt attempts to kill Johanson, but Greywolf and Anawak prevent it.
  • Berserk Button: Anawak has THREE of them: Greywolf flanderizing his Native American heritage, interrupting him while explaining his research, and saying the 'Indian' word in front of him.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Anawak and Greywolf preventing the assassination of Johanson.
  • Bollywood Nerd: Murray Shankar.
  • Everything Is Even Worse With Sharks and whales and lobsters and worms and jellyfish and ...
  • Fat Bastard: Jack Vanderbilt doesn't bother to hide it.
  • For Want of a Nail: Johanson blames himself for Tina Lund's death.
  • Freudian Excuse: Stone has one.
  • Gaia's Vengeance
  • General Ripper: Judith Li is a female version.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Johanson, though he was already lethally wounded when blowing up the submarine including him, Judith Li and the poisoned torpedo which was meant to destroy the yrr.
  • Hive Mind: The yrr.
  • Large Ham: Stanley Frost (GOD IS MY WITNESS!).
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: After he discovers a secret door, Johanson is given an amnesia drug.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Judith Li.
  • Multinational Team: Due to the global scope of the events, people from numerous nationalities have to work together.
  • Noble Savage: Jack O'Bannon, who calls himself "Greywolf", sees himself as one, even though he is only one-quarter Native American. Meanwhile, Leon Anawak (a full-blooded Inuk) hates this stereotype.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Averted, although the persons involved are not that famous. They are scientists who helped Schätzing do his research. Mostly minor roles, although one of them even fights a shark!
  • Nuke 'em: Judith Li, Jack Vanderbilt, Mike Rubin and others secretly plan to annihilate the yrr, with poison instead of nuclear weapons, but the general idea is the same.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Prominently averted. The scientists among the main cast are all specialists in their fields who have to exchange ideas with each other and also consult supporting scientist characters in order to slowly uncover the whole picture. This happens several times and is actually an integral part of the storyline. Being trained academics, all of them are familiar with essential fundamentals of mathematics, physics and chemistry (Truth in Television for most natural scientists), some even a bit more than might realistically be expected, but none of them are by any means equally proficient in all disciplines.
  • Organic Technology: Seems to be how the yrr achieve all their strikes against humanity.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: An interesting take on this trope: The yrr apparently can only possess sea creatures, and thus have to do pretty creative stuff in order to fight the land-dwelling humans.
  • Pungeon Master: The author's acknowledgements are FULL of puns related to the word "yrr", at least in the original German version.
  • Redemption Equals Death: It's similar with Jack Greywolf.
  • Scary Black Man: Salomon Peak, although only in appearance.
  • Shown Their Work: Many scientists in the cast = many Mister Expositions. And Schätzing did so much research that he was even able to publish a second (non-fiction) book about the themes dealt with in Der Schwarm.
    • And not only in the "scientific accuracy" department either: Schätzing has also done a fairly good job on the depiction of how science as a field/discipline "works" in general note  and on the mundane details of academic life (well, before the plot really takes off) - something few authors outside Hard Science Fiction or the "technothriller" genre manage to do. It's fairly authentic. Of course, the loads and loads of real-world scientists whom he thanks in the acknowledgments might have contributed a fair bit to both.
  • Southern-Fried Genius: Stan Frost is quite a cliched Texan, boisterous and plucky. And a very capable scientist.
  • Starfish Aliens: The yrr, although they evolved on Earth. But they are so alien that the humans have to rely on someone from the SETI project in order to establish contact with them.
  • Stop Being Stereotypical: It yrrks Leon Anawak to no end that Jack Greywolf intentionally Flanderizes his Native American heritage.
  • Synchronization: The quirk of the Yrr.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: The discussions between Anawak and Greywolf consist mostly of these.
  • The Swarm: Well, duh!
  • Too Soon: If you happened to read the novel after the 2004 tsunami.
  • Unwitting Pawn: The researches of Johanson, Anawak and the others were secretly used for creating an anti-yrr poison.
  • Villainesses Want Heroes: Li is shown to be attracted to Johanson, and he somewhat reciprocates.
  • Whoopi Epiphany Speech: Early in the novel, a Magical Native American lampshades this with the closing words of his own speech.