As far back as 2015, Bill Gates gave a now famous TED talk in which he predicted the occurrence of a pandemic “in the nearby future”. Mr. Gates is getting quite some flack for that prediction, which is quite unfair. Tin-foil-hat-wearers think that Bill Gates has some darker motives, whereas it is my guess that the truth is far more benign: Bill Gates simply reads a lot of books and articles; which are actually freely available to all of us. And if you start reading those, you will quickly realize that it isn’t such a surprise that Bill Gates arrived at his conclusion.
Over the years, a number of people, including many scientists and authors (fiction and non-fiction) have predicted the occurrence of a pandemic. Over-population, the massacre of the environment, climate change… all of these are factors in a dramatically changing playing field for pathogens.
Still not convinced? As a biologist and author, I published a novel on this topic back in 2010: TWO JOURNEYS (available e.g. on iTunes or amazon.com) describes the devastating impact of a CORONA VIRUS pandemic – see TWO JOURNEYS, pages 122/123 – photo below.
I must admit that there was no magic or clairvoyance involved; the SARS and MERS epidemics convinced me (as a scientist) that such a scenario was bound to happen. Sure, my prediction that the pandemic was the result of a CORONA VIRUS was surprisingly spot-on. The main reason for my selection of CORONA (and not e.g. H1N1) was that I needed a culprit that could spread at top speed across the globe – CORONA viruses have a prominent ability to do so through droplet and surface infection. In addition, it is challenging to develop vaccines against CORONA viruses, which at the time of writing the book also passed my mind as a suitable characteristic; I recall toying with the idea of introducing that aspect further on in the series.
What makes TWO JOURNEYS truly special is the analysis of the psychological effects of such an occurrence on the hero; and how populists will misuse the narrative for their own purposes. Quite a few story lines in the book have now (alas) become reality. That is where the novel has its true predictive strenght.
So, TWO JOURNEYS (and its sequel FIELDS OF FIRE) indeed describe the aftermath of a CORONA pandemic. The rest is high speed, adventure fiction – but you will recognize several characters and occurrences again, e.g. the misuse of the pandemic by the villainous dictator Somerset may well remind you of some of our current political leaders – those that put fiction before fact, and self-interest before empathy. I recently addressed this in a (yet again!) predictive blogpost, first published back in March 2020: The Corona Pandemic and How it Affects All of Us.