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Pandemics in the Pages of ‘The Stand,’ ‘Severance’ and More

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Pandemics in the Pages of ‘The Stand,’ ‘Severance’ and More

You’re most likely studying and listening to lots about coronavirus — the symptoms, its spread around the world, the requires “social distancing.”

If the fixed information and updates are making you anxious, contemplate one of these novels or tales. You wouldn’t be alone: Publishers are reporting booming gross sales for books whose fictional plots revolve round pandemics, together with Albert Camus’s “The Plague” and Ling Ma’s “Severance.” And whereas many of these books conjure an all-out apocalypse, you may discover consolation in dipping right into a fictional worst-case situation — and, with some of them, seeing how the characters make it out alive.

[ Looking for extra details about different real-life epidemics? Here’s an essential reading list. ]

When an unknown microorganism reaches Piedmont, Ariz., all however just a few of the city’s residents die. What follows is a race by scientists to grasp what it’s and the best way to hold it from harming others. Our reviewer called this book, printed in 1969, “a reading windfall — compelling, memorable, superbly executed.”

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In his 2019 debut novel, Koepp, who wrote the screenplay for the movie adaptation of “Jurassic Park,” describes the race to comprise a zombielike fungus that hijacks the brains of its hosts. There’s lots of grossness right here, although it is a basic thriller; our reviewer said Koepp “has a wicked sense of humor and his characters are so keenly, intelligently and even movingly drawn that they might have stepped out of a literary novel.”

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Katie Flynn’s debut novel, “The Companions,” grew out of her “unhealthy fascination with outbreaks.” “The Companions,” printed earlier this month, takes place in a future California the place residents have been quarantined in the wake of a lethal virus. The borders have been shut down and survivors dwell below surveillance, sequestered in high-rise towers. In a surreal twist, the lifeless persist as sentient machines known as “companions,” units that dying folks add their consciousnesses into. The narrative, which unfolds from the perspective of eight characters, wrestles with the query of what separates people from clever machines.

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In his forthcoming novel, “The End of October” — which will likely be printed on April 28 — The New Yorker author Lawrence Wright describes the chaos {that a} world pandemic may unleash: tons of of hundreds of thousands of deaths, hospitals and well being care methods stretched to the breaking level, the collapse of governments and civil society. The novel’s protagonist, a microbiologist and epidemiologist named Henry Parsons, is on the entrance traces of attempting to gradual the virus’s unfold and engineer a vaccine as the pandemic cripples nations round the world.

In an interview with Publishers Weekly, Wright mentioned he was alarmed by the overlap between his fictional pandemic and the coronavirus outbreak. “When I read the accounts of the spread of this new disease, I feel like I’m reading chapters from my own book,” he mentioned. “I just hope it turns out better in real life than it does in the novel.”

In this 1842 brief story, the “happy and dauntless and sagacious” Prince Prospero and a thousand of his nobles retreat to a walled abbey to flee the Red Death, a plague that kills its victims inside an hour. When Prospero holds a masquerade ball in seven completely different coloured rooms of the abbey, he and his court docket discover a determine donning blood-splattered robes and Red Death signs making his manner via every of the rooms.

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In this 2010 novel, the human race is sort of obliterated when a failed authorities experiment produces a mass of hungry vampires, or “virals,” into the world. Years later, fewer than 100 people stay, and the mild supply that retains the virals at bay is on its final legs. Hoping to seek out energy for his or her batteries, a number of survivors enterprise right into a world they barely know anymore to determine the best way to survive. This e-book, according to our reviewer, is “astutely plotted and imaginative enough to satisfy the most bloodthirsty reader.”

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In this 1947 basic, a illness spreads via an Algerian city below quarantine. Interpretations of “The Plague” over the years have ranged from a critique of the Nazi occupation throughout World War II to a number one instance of existentialist literature. It is one of a number of books about pandemics whose global sales have spiked as the coronavirus has unfold.

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In King’s 1,200-page novel, a pc error at a lab doing organic warfare analysis results in the launch of an influenza pressure that kills over 99 p.c of the world’s inhabitants. Survivors — each good and evil ones — converge and try to arrange governments, however they quickly notice that “the reality of a democracy no longer exists: ‘The President is dead, the Pentagon is for rent, nobody is debating anything in the House or the Senate except maybe for the termites and the cockroaches.’” What follows, our reviewer writes, is “a nation exposed over and over to itself, as in an enormous mirror, part trite situation comedy, part science fiction, part cop show.”

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A pandemic has worn out most of the world inhabitants, and it brings a couple of near-total societal collapse. Twenty years later, the world is virtually unrecognizable, with borders and nations dissolved. Kirsten, the central character, is a component of a troupe that travels amongst the remaining cities scattered throughout North America, performing largely Shakespeare, to maintain spirits afloat. Our reviewer said this 2014 novel “offers comfort and hope to those who believe, or want to believe, that doomsday can be survived.”

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Shen Fever has damaged out in New York: Families evacuate, scores of folks fall ailing and life all however stops. But Candace, the heroine of this 2018 debut novel, stays, half of a small group of wholesome staff; when she’s not working, she posts her images of the eerily empty metropolis below an internet pseudonym. Alongside the horror, the e-book interweaves a critique of capitalism whereas evoking “a first-generation immigrant’s nostalgia for New York,” our reviewer writes.

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A plague has turned most of humankind into zombies, or “skels,” brief for skeletons. The ones who survived are attempting to regain management of their cities, aided by sweepers like Mark Spitz (not his actual title) who seek for straggler skels and put them out of their undead distress. Written by Colson Whitehead earlier than he received the Pulitzer and National Book Award for “The Underground Railroad,” this 2011 e-book is literary, gory and, according to our reviewer, “for all its ludic violence, strangely tender.”

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