I’ve been thinking of an amusing plot idea, possibly for a pseudo-apocalyptic thriller of the sort that I wouldn’t ever be likely to write. I’ll give you a little background information to set the stage, and if any of you ever want to use it, please be my guest. (It would be nice if you’d let me know, so that I can keep my eyes out for the story, but it’s by no means required.)
We’re all reasonably familiar with the disease The Mumps, caused by a viral infection, and much rarer for people to get in the modern, developed world thanks to vaccination. What some people don’t know is that, in addition to causing inflammation of the parotid glands, leading to the familiar, puffy-cheeked look of its sufferers, it can also, on occasion, cause orchiitis – an inflammation of the testicles. In some victims, this can lead to decreased fertility and even to full-fledged sterility.
Now, what if some “mad scientist” – perhaps an eco-terrorist – carefully selected for just those strains of the virus most frequently causing orchiitis, then genetically engineered that to engender peak virulence, increased transmissibility, and so on, before releasing it into the general population? The goal would be a form of preemptive population control, a genocide that wouldn’t require the murder of already-living people (except, of course, for that small percentage of Mumps sufferers who do die from even the ordinary illness).
One could write a story about the discovery of such a plot and the brave and dangerous attempt to head it off, or about living in a world that had already succumbed to its effects, a la “The Stand.” The specifics, of course, would be up to the individual writer, but it could be a good story. One (amusing?) side-effect (or benefit, depending upon one’s point of view) would be that, in the West, at least, anti-vaccers would disproportionately fall victim to the nefarious plot.
This, however, is not a good enough reason for those readers who are scientifically inclined and have the resources to choose actually to carry out such a plot in real life. No indeed! I would never endorse such a dreadful course of action, no matter how darkly amusing the side-effects would be, or how beneficial it might be to the beleaguered other species of plants and animals on the Earth.
I’m kidding. I honestly would NOT want to see such a thing happen. I do have children, and I hope they have long, rewarding lives in a healthy world that’s achieved peace and prosperity without the mass-sterilization of the human population, if such a thing is possible. Still, I would like to read a story about it, and it’s not my kind of story to write, so to my fellow authors a out there: Have at it, if you’re interested. I eagerly await any fruits of your labors.
And, to any of the other sort, as I said above: I already HAVE kids.