Welcome to this week's Reno News & Review.
For a minute there, it seemed like Ebolanoia was going to take over the news for a very long time. It's pretty obvious to me that those news commentators have only the lightest grounding in science fiction. Their worst-case scenarios didn't even begin to approach the dystopic visions that jump into my head.
First was “U.S. government moves into its ultimate plans to subjugate the people.” Think travel restrictions, quarantines and medical care rationing. Free travel is a hallmark of any free society, but to contain the spread of the disease, there would be random checkpoints to take temperatures. Then people on the enemies list or with fevers would be contained in climate-controlled stockades to guarantee contact among the sick and subversive. It will only take a few thousands of active cases to overwhelm the U.S. medical system, so only those 1 percenters will get help, and that, we also know, is the key to increasing the odds of survival.
The other sci-fi dystopian scenario is the death of half of all humans on the planet. Think a bit of unemployment is a bitch? Wait until everything that needs to be done can't get done because there's no one to do it. Whatever government or military force arises would enslave the rest—children, aging—to do the jobs that used to be done by masses yearning to be free.
I can see the movie now: Young couple in love, trapped by overlords who choose families based on eugenics (after having their sexual ways with the youthful). Against all odds, they escape the Ebola-free archology, only to discover the “Outside” has become an Eden because global warming has been solved with the death of half of mankind and the collapse of the “free enterprise” society. Everything is there for the taking. They just move into an empty house on a defensible hill in Verdi. They even adopt a dog, which they name Bentley. But their paradise is only an illusion because they're not alone, and marauding bands wander the Outside. But all the marauders have one thing in common: They've already survived Ebola.