27 Jan 2008
When I first started flipping though The Little Book of Pandemics, by Dr. Peter Moore, my first thought was that it would be really useful for writing post-apocalyptic fiction. It quickly dawned on me that if you’re writing about a superbug, this probably isn’t the book for you. Although there is plenty of scary stuff in here, if you’re looking for something of truly civilization-ending proportions, you would probably be better off inventing something new like airborne AIDS or something that has a Children of Men sort of effect.
Where a book like this really comes in handy, though, is with fantasy. Most fantasy relies on the assumption that things like cholera and typhoid are simply dealt with by means of magic. If you want to include that sort of detail (or possibly write a story where magic or technology simply ceases to work), this is the book for you. It does a fantastic job of describing how, exactly, these diseases are spread, how they affect the body, and what environments they are found in, as well as other interesting information.
Aside from it’s already mentioned utility, the book is well laid out and interesting in its own right, although some may find it a bit grim for pleasure reading. This book definitely has a spot on a writer’s reference shelf, regardless of what sort of story you write. Highly recommended.
A final note: My wife bought this book for me while we were in Canada. Unfortunately, it will not be released in the states until February 12, 2008. If you need it now, you can order it from Amazon Canada.