Seeds for the Swarm by Sim Kern


A debut YA novel for older teens from the Otherwise Honor Listed author of Depart, Depart! The first book in a three-book series.

“A deeply humane journey through a near-future where climate change has progressed well past the point of no return. Sim Kern never shies from the ethical implications of their own world-building. It’s easy to valorize hope, but what happens when our desire for hope leads us to embrace facile, counter-productive solutions? In this queer, self-aware take on the Ender’s Game scenario of a bunch of brilliant kids drawn together to save the world, you’ll genuinely be cheering at how Rylla and her friends manage to maintain their belief in the power of science, the value of human life, and need to keep struggling against cynicism and hopelessness.” ⁠— Naomi Kanakia, author of Enter Title Here and We Are Totally Normal

“Kern doesn’t pull any punches on the environmental consequences of consumer capitalism, nor do they avoid the social and emotional impacts of living through an age of mass extinctions. The subject lends itself to nihilism, but Rylla’s commitment to family, friends, and justice provides a glimpse of hope that is badly needed in the coming fights, real and fictional. Perfect for teen readers struggling with their own feelings of despair in our own unstable world, it is also a welcome and provocative read for all fans of YA.” ⁠— Amy Nagopaleen for Strange Horizons

“Seeds for the Swarm is as clever as it is creative, and full of characters so rich and morally complex I wanted to know every inch of their minds. Seeds channels my favourite 2010s dystopias with all the awareness of today. I can’t wait to see what Sim Kern has in store next.” ⁠— Elle Grenier, bookseller

“A satisfying ecological take on the dystopian science-fiction novel.” — Kirkus Reviews


Customers outside of CA/US: due to supply chain issues, worldwide shipping of print books is currently slow and expensive. We recommend shopping with your local indie bookstore. If you do order a print book from us, it will be shipped from the closest print facility to you and will therefore be printed on standard paper and will not include the goodies we send with CA/US orders.


About the Book

Rylla McCracken dreams of escaping her family’s trailer in the Dust States to go to college, but on the eve of her eighteenth birthday, her mother demands she drop out of school to work for Lockburn chemical refinery instead. When Rylla learns Lockburn is planning to dam the Guadalupe River—the last flowing water in Texas—she defies her mother to protest in the state capital. The protest ends in disaster, but her ensuing viral infamy gains Rylla an acceptance to the mysterious Wingates University.

At Wingates, Rylla befriends a diverse group of students, all working on new technologies to save the planet. Besides mountains of homework, Rylla struggles with guilt for leaving her brother behind in the Dust, where tensions with the Lush States are escalating towards civil war. Succeeding at Wingates seems like Rylla’s best chance to help her family, until she uncovers a terrible secret about the school’s billionaire backers. Now, Rylla and her friends are in a race against the rich to reclaim the world-altering technology they’ve developed—before it’s too late.

About the Author

Sim Kern is an environmental journalist and speculative fiction writer, exploring intersections of climate change, queerness, and social justice. You can find links to all their stories at and follow them on Twitter @sim_kern, on Instagram @Sim_bookstagrams_badly, and on their YouTube channel.

Learn More:
Also Available From:

Additional information

Book Format


Page count



9781777682309 (trade), 9781777682316 (ebook)

Publication Date

March 1 2023


YA/New Adult, science fiction, climate fiction, novel


climate change, dystopia, elite school setting, diverse characters

Cover Art and Design

Isip Xin


There are no reviews yet.

Be the first to review “Seeds for the Swarm by Sim Kern”

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *