The End of Men

Not really! But this plot premise is popping up in recent fiction, usually as a virus that only targets men and leads to their widespread demise as the world collectively panics. Is now the best time to read about rampant viruses? Maybe not. But if you want to distract yourself from our current viral situation with some fictional versions then hey, why not? And it is intriguing to envision.

The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird
In 2025, a lethal virus breaks out in Scotland which only impacts men. As the Great Male Plague spreads around the world, impacts ripple from the personal to the societal.
     Pick this one: to view the action through the perspectives and experiences of a large cast of characters, including a doctor, virologists, a historian on the run with her son, a nanny, plus smaller one-off vignettes from a wide swathe of characters. Continue reading “The End of Men”

Three on a Theme: Pandemic Philosophy

As we progress into what seems like the umpteenth month of this pandemic, the long-term effects of what it feels like to be isolated from loved ones, constantly exposed to news reports about death and infection rates are starting to feel quite exhausting. Even though some lockdown measures are slowly thawing (have you tried curbside holds pickup yet?), we are still far from returning to the way things were pre-pandemic. Here are some philosophical texts that deal with some of the psychological, political, and social struggles of being in a pandemic for the long haul. Continue reading “Three on a Theme: Pandemic Philosophy”

Pandemic Post-Apocalyptic Podcast

It was amazing, astounding, this loss of communication with the world. It was exactly as if the world had ceased, been blotted out. …With the coming of the Scarlet Death the world fell apart, absolutely, irretrievably.
The Scarlet Plague, by Jack London

Just a handful of years after the novella quoted above came out, the world was plunged into a global pandemic that claimed over 50 million lives. Jack London didn’t live to see it, but he had recently witnessed the ominous return of the Black Death, a startling outbreak of bubonic plague in turn-of-the-century San Francisco that is recounted in David Randall’s Black Death at the Golden Gate. What’s more, he had the foresight to know that worse – much worse – was to come:

Now this is the strange thing about these germs. There were always new ones coming to live in men’s bodies. …the more men there were, the more thickly were they packed together on the earth, the more new kinds of germs became diseases. There were warnings. Soldervetzsky, as early as 1929, told the bacteriologists that they had no guaranty against some new disease, a thousand times more deadly than any they knew, arising and killing by the hundreds of millions and even by the billion.  

While not all of the predictions in London’s vision of America circa 2013 ring true – personal dirigibles, anyone? – his pandemic prophecies have only gained force. In H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds, humankind is saved by micro-organisms; in London’s The Scarlet Plague, these same germs turn on us, and almost win. Looking back from the year 2073 on the devastation, an old man attempts to teach his grandsons how to relight the torch of civilization, with the aid of that most precious tool: books! Continue reading “Pandemic Post-Apocalyptic Podcast”

Imagining Life, Post-Pandemic

There was a time – two months or so ago – when readers flocked to dystopian fiction so that they might imagine  what strange, dark days might lay ahead. Now that we’re all living through something that feels a bit like sci-fi itself, futuristic fiction is still there to help us envision and contemplate the way forward.

In Mike Chen’s Beginning at the End, it felt pretty apocalyptic when the viral epidemic known as MGS wiped out 70% of the world’s population. But the world didn’t end, and six years later we join three residents of San Francisco as they emerge from social isolation into a city and a world that is different, yet in many ways still the same. Rob’s young daughter doesn’t yet know that her mother has died. Struggling former wedding-planner Krista escaped her own abusive family under cover of the plague, and now counsels traumatized survivors. Former pop star Moira’s life has been reinvented in surprising ways during the epidemic. Chen’s perceptive, empathetic novel helps us to process realities not so very different from our own. Continue reading “Imagining Life, Post-Pandemic”

It Could Always Be Worse

I don’t know about you, but the idea of being quarantined for a few days sounded like a great idea with all the books and movies I have on my list. Now that I am stir crazy and want to get out of the house that is highly inadvisable, so I decided to put together a list of books and movies that will scare you into staying home. All of these items are available through Overdrive, Hoopla, or Kanopy.

Continue reading “It Could Always Be Worse”