This isn’t really a book review, but with the current extreme measures over Covid-19, it made me think of similar fictional pandemics.
Strangely, I’m going to start with… Tom Clancy. In his Jack Ryan novel Executive Orders. In this volume, after Jack Ryan becomes president in an incident that people compared to 9/11 (a pilot hits the Capitol with his passenger plan when the president was announcing Jack Ryan as the new vice-president, leaving Jack Ryan as president in charge of a demolishe government), a middle-eastern non-existent country decides to unleash a weaponized Ebola virus on the US while it’s trying to pull itself together. As a result, President Ryan is forced to institute a nation-wide quarantine, shutting down all gatherings and inter-state traffic. In doing so, he was calm and reassuring in the face of virulent objections, and saved a lot of people as a result.
Pity the current president isn’t quite so calm and reassuring, but we won’t get into politics.
I really enjoyed Executive Orders, even though I was a little peeved at the complete lack of mention of what happened in Canada. After all, the virus was unleashed in conventions, and guaranteed there were Canadians at those conventions.
Still, everything works out in the end
And then there are not so happy pandemic results.
A classic, of course is The Stand, by Stephen King. A flu-like bug engineered in a US military lab is unleashed, and as a result, most of the world’s population is wiped out, leading into a supernatural battle between good and evil. I enjoyed the book, but I even more enjoyed the mini-series staring Gary Sinese. The mini-series treated women and minorities better than the book, I found.
A more recent example is Station Eleven, by Emily St John Mandel. Tis lovely book flips between the ‘present’ after the pandemic Georgian Flu kills a majority of the world, and a troop of Shakespearean actors are traveling to bring entertainment to isolated communities because ‘survival is not enough’, and the ‘past’ during the pandemic. It’s a little silly that so many of the characters are interconnected in the post-pandemic world, but I really enjoyed the book.
Finally, another book I really enjoyed was The Dog Stars by Peter Heller. In it, after (again) a Flu bug kills off the majority of humanity, two men are living in an airport, one of them an avid pilot getting in as much flying as he can before aviation flu expires (yes, apparently fuel expires). One day, while flying he picks up a signal from another airport, and he decides to go looking for more surviviors.
So, folks, stay safe and make sure not to touch your face as much as possible, and regularly wash with soap and water.
Oh, and stop hoarding toilet paper, people. It’s ridiculous.