Wuhan Coronavirus: 10 popular fiction books about diseases or viruses to read.(amazon.in)
Wuhan Coronavirus: 10 popular fiction books about diseases or viruses to read.(amazon.in)

Wuhan Coronavirus: 10 popular fiction books about diseases or viruses to read

From Max Brooks’ World War Z to Stephen King’s The Stand, here are 10 books that speak about diseases or viruses and their effect on the world.
Hindustan Times, Delhi | By HT Correspondent
UPDATED ON JAN 29, 2020 08:50 AM IST

Coronavirus is rapidly spreading and has claimed 106 lives in China. Cases have been reported in Thailand, Hong Kong, US and Australia among other places. No deaths have been reported so far outside China.

The virus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, didn’t match any other known strain and raised concerns because no one knew how it affects the human population.

The new coronavirus has been named 2019-nCoV.

The development arc of the coronavirus seems straight out of a novel. The uncertainty surrounding the origin and spread of the disease -- as scary as it may seem -- could prove fodder for some literature soon.

But then again, diseases have played a significant role in fiction for years. Viruses and illnesses, both real and fictive, have appeared in several books. Pandemic plagues caused by viruses like the new coronavirus, or other diseases like tuberculosis and cancer have formed pivotal points in novels for years. Giovanni Boccaccio’s 1353 novel The Decameron spoke about the Black Death, while Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales spoke about pilgrims on a journey in a world racked by plague to name a few.

But they are not the only ones, from Max Brooks’ World War Z to Stephen King’s The Stand, here are 10 books that speak about diseases or viruses and their effect on the world.

1. The Stand: A post-apocalyptic horror/ fantasy novel by Stephen King, the plot presents a chronicle of the total breakdown of society after the accidental release of a strain of influenza that had been modified for biological warfare.

The novel was turned into a 1994 television mini-series which was directed by Mick Garris.

2. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War: The 2006 zombie apocalyptic horror novel by Max Brooks that spoke about a virus that turns people into zombies citing a young boy from a village called Dachang in Chongqing, China, to be the outbreak’s official patient zero.

The successful novel was turned into a film with Brad Pitt starring as the main character, UN employee Gerry Lane.

3. The Andromeda Strain: Michael Crichton’s 1969 novel follows the efforts of a team of scientists investigating the outbreak of a deadly extraterrestrial microorganism in Arizona.

The novel was the basis for a film of the same name directed by Robert Wise and was also turned into a mini-series in 2008 that was produced by Ridley and Tony Scott.

4. The Passage: The 2010 novel by Justin Cronin commences in an apocalyptic and later post-apocalyptic world that is overrun by zombie/vampire-like beings who are infected by a highly contagious virus. The novel and its sequels were developed into a Fox television series.

5. Inferno: Dan Brown’s 2013 novel reveals a vector virus randomly activates to employ DNA changes to cause sterility in one-third humans. The book, which is the fourth in the Robert Langdon series, was made into a film with Tom Hanks playing Langdon again.

6. The Plague: The classic by Albert Camus that was published in 1947 and chronicles a plague that swept through the French Algerian city of Oran. It is believed that the novel is based on the cholera epidemic that killed a large percentage of Oran’s population in 1849.

The book was adapted into a 1992 Argentine-French-British drama that was written and directed by Luis Puenzo and starred William Hurt.

7. Station Eleven: The novel takes place in the Great Lakes region in the US after it is hit by a fictional swine flu pandemic known as Georgia Flu, which kills most of the world’s population.

The novel won the Arthur C. Clarke Award in May 2015 and is in talks to be turned into both a film and an HBO mini-series.

8. I Am Pilgrim: The debut novel by journalist Terry Hayes was published in 2013 and revolves around a threat involving the creation of a vaccine-resistant strain of the variola major virus that causes smallpox.

9. I Am Legend: Written by Richard Matheson, the book is a post-apocalyptic horror novel that follows the life of protagonist Robert Neville.

He seems to be the sole survivor of a pandemic that killed most of the human population and turned the remaining into vampire-like creatures. The novel chronicles Neville’s life as he tries to survive, research and cure the disease.

10. The Cobra Event: Richard Preston’s 1998 thriller describes a bioterrorism attack on the US. An engineered virus called ‘Cobra’ fuses the contagious common cold with viral smallpox resulting in something called a brainpox.

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