by Shelt Garner
As I find myself working on a second creative track in the guise of a novel, I also find myself mulling about an existential flaw in pandemic fiction. It’s such a glaring flaw that it’s a serious pet storytelling peeve on my part.
The guise of my irritation is two fold.
One is, it is absolutely impossible for any virus, no matter how virulent to kill off 99% of the population so quickly that humanity doesn’t bounce back within 40 to 60 years. And that’s the second part of my pet peeve — you can’t “unlearn” some pretty basic elements of the modern world.
As such, even if you wiped out 95% of the white, first world Western world, you have millions — maybe even a billion — of brown poor people left untouched by any pandemic, even if it’s of a The Stand level of potency.
This, from a storytelling standpoint, brings up an interesting idea — if you combine humanity snapping back within no later than 60 years with the sources of population being in remote areas of South America, Africa and, maybe, the East Indies, what kind of world does that created down the road?
So, I think someone — maybe me? — should write a novel or screenplay about systemic racism that flips the script on the modern racism problems we have in the world. In this new future world, white people are blamed for the horrific effects of a pandemic a few decades before, to the point that they live in conditions similar to the horrible problems we find in America’s inner cities.
Of course, there is a real risk that all of this would come across as, well, racist. But I think if you made it clear what you were trying to convey, that you MIGHT be able to get away with it.