John Scalzi’s Favourite Books About Epidemics

I’m sure by now everyone is aware of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.  Despite the incredible and due fear surrounding the Ebola virus it may be worth noting that while Ebola has killed a record amount of people, during the same time frame Malaria and TB have claimed hundreds of thousands more lives.

“Since the Ebola outbreak began in February, around 300,000 people have died from malaria, while tuberculosis has likely claimed over 600,000 lives. Ebola might have our attention, but it’s not even close to being the biggest problem in Africa right now.” (article)

That said, the Ebola outbreak has had me thinking about epidemics and how they truly are one of our greatest threats.  There are a number of great books that take on this terrifying subject and the first that comes to my mind is Justin Cronin’s The Passage Trilogy.  I love these books and am eagerly awaiting the final book.  John Scalzi’s new book Lock In is about a virus that results in 1% of the world’s population being left ‘locked in’.  Here is the blurb from GoodReads:Lock In

“Fifteen years from now, a new virus sweeps the globe. 95% of those afflicted experience nothing worse than fever and headaches. Four percent suffer acute meningitis, creating the largest medical crisis in history. And one percent find themselvs “locked in”—fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus. One per cent doesn’t seem like a lot. But in the United States, that’s 1.7 million people “locked in”…including the President’s wife and daughter. Spurred by grief and the sheer magnitude of the suffering, America undertakes a massive scientific initiative. Nothing can restore the ability to control their own bodies to the locked in. But then two new technologies emerge. One is a virtual-reality environment, “The Agora,” in which the locked-in can interact with other humans, both locked-in and not. The other is the discovery that a few rare individuals have brains that are receptive to being controlled by others, meaning that from time to time, those who are locked in can “ride” these people and use their bodies as if they were their own. This skill is quickly regulated, licensed, bonded, and controlled. Nothing can go wrong. Certainly nobody would be tempted to misuse it, for murder, for political power, or worse….”

I can’t wait to get my hands on this book!  So, with the release of Lock In, Scalzi has picked his favourite epidemic books which he has shared in a GoodReads’ Good Minds Suggest article.  Here are Scalzi’s 5 epidemic picks:

The Stand by Stephen King

The Stand

“This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death.  And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides — or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abagail — and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the dark man.”  (GoodReads)

Emergence by David R Palmer

Emergence

“Candidia Maria Smith-Foster, an eleven-year-old girl, is unaware that she’s a Homo post hominem, mankind’s next evolutionary step. With international relations rapidly deteriorating, Candy’s father, publicly a small-town pathologist but secretly a government biowarfare expert, is called to Washington. Candy remains at home.  The following day a worldwide attack, featuring a bionuclear plague, wipes out virtually all of humanity (i.e., Homo sapiens). With her pet bird Terry, she survives the attack in the shelter beneath their house. Emerging three months later, she learns of her genetic heritage and sets off to search for others of her kind.”  (GoodReads)

Bridge of Birds: A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was by Barry Hughart

Bridge of Birds: A Novel of an Ancient China That Never Was (The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox, #1)

“When the children of his village were struck with a mysterious illness, Number Ten Ox sought a wiseman to save them. He found master Li Kao, a scholar with a slight flaw in his character. Together, they set out to find the Great Root of Power, the only possible cure. The quest led them to a host of truly memorable characters, multiple wonders, incredible adventures—and strange coincidences, which were really not coincidences at all. And it involved them in an ancient crime that still perturbed the serenity of Heaven. Simply and charmingly told, this is a wry tale, a sly tale, and a story of wisdom delightfully askew. Once read, its marvels and beauty will not easily fade from the mind.”  (GoodReads)

Grass by Sheri S Tepper

Grass (Arbai, #1)

“Generations ago, humans fled to the cosmic anomaly known as Grass. But before humanity arrived, another species had already claimed Grass for its own. It too had developed a culture…Now a deadly plague is spreading across the stars, leaving no planet untouched, save for Grass. But the secret of the planet’s immunity hides a truth so shattering it could mean the end of life itself.”  (GoodReads)

 World War Z by Max Brooks

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

“The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. “World War Z” is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.  Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War.” (GoodReads)

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Verity M

Writer. Love Reading, Photography, Travel, & Life Design. I'm all about Curiosity & Creativity.

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