Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-10-19 07:38:22
In 2006, I released a novel about a global zombie plague that drives humanity to the brink of extinction. While the zombies may have been fake, I tried to anchor the human response (political-military-economic-cultural) in reality. I studied the history of pandemics, natural disasters and industrialized warfare. I interviewed doctors, soldiers, journalists and someone who “has never gotten a check from the CIA” in an attempt to illustrate the fragile global systems that shield our species from the abyss. As a result, I’ve been repeatedly asked if the current outbreak of Ebola is the real-life incarnation of my novel. As much as any author would love to crow about how “I predicted this!”, this time, I’m happy to say, my fictional plague could not be more different from the truth.
It could be argued that there are some similarities between the initial Ebola outbreak in West Africa and my fictional virus. Early on, there were missed warnings, such as a U.S. intelligence group’s failure to mine data that was written in French. There was also an obvious lack of interest on the part of the industrialized world. Not only were the headlines already taken up by Islamic State and the war in Ukraine but, let’s be honest, ignoring the plight of Africans is shamefully commonplace in the First World.
However, roughly one month ago, when the world reached its collective-conscious tipping point, the response deviated sharply from both World War Z’s plot and from responses to AIDS and SARS, which inspired the book. For starters, media coverage of the Ebola virus has been both loud and consistent. Try opening a newspaper, or your laptop, or flipping on either the television or radio without hearing something about Ebola. You can’t. Even President Barack Obama has dubbed the virus a “top national security priority.” Unlike World War Z where the “Great Denial” gave way to the “Great Panic,” real authority figures have tried to temper potential hysteria with sober honesty. While the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Thomas Freiden, promised “a long, hard fight,” he also assured listeners that “we know how to stop it and we’re stopping it in West Africa, community by community.” Likewise, General Daryl Williams, who commands the U.S. military mission to Africa, has declared that mission will continue “for as long as it takes.” More»