World War Z Author Says The Coronavirus Is A Wakeup Call

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You could be forgiven for thinking that the only things currently happening anywhere are the back and forth accusations of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, and the Coronavirus sweeping the planet and threatening to put the entire world on temporary lockdown. Regarding the latter, Max Brooks, author of The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z, took to Reddit to discuss with readers the parallels between his reality-based fiction and the current global state, and the recurring theme in his work of humanity having to adapt to survive.

In his introduction to the post he observed the comparable point of the Chinese government attempting to censor the book due to its criticism of them, as portrayal of the country’s authoritarian and information-controlling ruling party as being in any way fallible is forbidden. The zombie plague rampaged unchecked due to the lack of information, but Coronavirus has been able to spread despite it being far more widely reported on, which Brooks put down to the refusal to accept the problem as something needing to be addressed.

“I think human beings are slow to realize a threat. We instinctually want to deny danger. It’s an ego-defense mechanism. The problem is, if you deny too much, and are caught unprepared, panic sets in. I think we’ve been gutting our global health institutions for too long. In rich countries like the USA, we now take public health for granted. We don’t have that gut-churning fear our grandparents used to have when Polio and other disease raged through the population. This, hopefully, could be a wakeup call for us to spend the necessary money to reinforce our public-global health networks. I’m just so sorry that this wakeup call is coming too late for people who are already sick.”

As well as the illness spreading, he also commented on how it can be battled.

“We’ve come such a long way. Even now, we’ve got armies, literally, of dedicated public health professionals fighting this world war. We can do our part to help them. That’s why, in WWZ, there’s no one hero. Everyone has a role to play. Just like now. No matter what country you’re in, check in with your local public health department. Check in with WHO. Follow the guidelines. Do what you can, from social distancing to hygiene, to help slow the spread. This is so solvable, as long as we all do our part.”

As for the virus itself, he had measured consideration of how wary we should be of it and associated illnesses.

“I think the Coronavirus is as dangerous as we allow it to be. This is not the end of the world, but we need to take it seriously, implement measures to curb the spread, marshal the resources of government and industry behind a vaccine and treatment. As regular citizens, we need to think about what we can do: social distancing, washing hands, avoiding crowds, and for God’s sake, stay home if you’re sick! We can’t just think about “can I get it?”, we need to think about “who can I infect?” We have the power to turn this around, but we need to make the right choices.”

Oscar Wilde famously once wrote “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life,” and it’s often with fiction that we can sort the chaos into order within our own minds. This is why over the last few weeks viral pandemic thriller Contagion has been cited innumerable times, despite it being a distinctly average film with nothing special to recommend it outwith Gwyneth Paltrow dying in the opening ten minutes.

World War Z might have been fiction, but every aspect of it was meticulously researched to be as true to reality as possible. It optimistically portrays humanity ultimately coming together to battle a common threat, and while our species emerges triumphant, it’s a pyrrhic victory and one that could have been unnecessary had preventative measures been taken in the first place.