Latest novel New Messiah is going well – and whilst it’s set in a future world where global cabals battle for the last remaining resources, there is still hope for the planet. Despite the rather gloomy context and the dystopian themes, there is no mention of sodding Covid 19 in the novel and nor will there be, because I am sick to death of hearing about it every time I go on line or watch the news, as if nothing else matters (apart from football).
At the same time there’s a dread fascination in the numbers. And something insidious about an invisible enemy that leaps from one family member to another, or attacks you in the supermarket. And numbers don’t equate with the heart-wrenching stories and lingering deaths of young and old. 100,000 excess deaths in a UK population of 67 million or so doesn’t sound a lot (14% more than usual), but the emotional burden is crushing. The collective social and economic hardship and ruined lives from the lockdown only adds to collective misery.
The history of smallpox – light relief
Mind you, for light relief I’ve been reading an excellent book about the war against Smallpox. Written by Gareth Williams, it’s cheerily titled ‘The Angel of Death’. Even a ghoulish horror writer would struggle to describe the effects of smallpox, where survivors often wished they had died. With a death rate of 15% and hideous deformities commonplace, smallpox makes Covid 19 look on the meek side. The other astonishing aspect is the insane and obsessive opposition to early attempts at inoculation, and later vaccinations. Despite clear evidence of its effectiveness, opposition lasted for over a century before there was final acceptance that it was a good thing.
Opposition amounted to a religious crusade and was based on denial so deep that no evidence was trusted. Millions died terrible deaths because of this opposition, with evangelical leaders developing huge followings. We have the same today with Covid 19. There are also those who refuse to believe in global warming, including the previous US president – leader of the world’s biggest economy doing his bit for the planet.
Enter global warming
Covid 19 is a transient thing in historical terms. An evolutionary microbial war we have got caught up in. We may also have helped accelerate it as a side-effect of environmental destruction, disregarding the basic laws of nature. Against the behemoth of global warming, environmental loss and mass extinctions, this viral pandemic is just a nightmarish blip. It’s a foreshock before the earthquake. It’s akin to the tornados that accompany a monster hurricane. And we are ignoring the hurricane and leaving this unholy mess to the next generation. We’ve known about global warming for over 50 years now, compared to 1 year of Covid 19.
There are some universal themes here that are influencing my latest novel ‘New Messiah’. And yes, there are viruses and evangelists at work in there too. I just could not help myself.
In this dystopian (lovely word) future, two rival cabals struggle to control the fast-dwindling resources in a ransacked world. Here, viral wars are precisely targeted. The cabals have given up trying to save the planet. They believe that it’s a natural process to eliminate the weak and select the strong. Powerful AI controls the Internet, and no truth remains in the world. A new channel – TheTruth (or TT) – is flooding the Internet. The cabals are unable to shut it down as unrest grows. A stranger emerges from nowhere and he speaks with the voices of angels. Escaping imprisonment and torture, he joins forces with TheTruth and their following becomes a new global movement. Can ordinary people revolt against their oppressors to build a new world before the Messiah can be silenced? Can we do the same in real life?