Didn't I Write This Story Already?


fiction covid-19

In November 2015, Naomi Kritzer wrote a short sci-fi story called So Much Cooking. It was published in Clarkesworld, a science fiction and fantasy magazine. The story is told in the form of a cooking blog written by a woman living through a global pandemic of a flu-like virus. This week, Kritzer posted on another sci-fi blog to acknowledge how prescient she’d been in some aspects of her story. Of course being the author she mostly focused on where she got it wrong.

Another thing I didn’t think through back in 2015: the fact that if the death rate is 34% when people have access to treatment, you’ll see a much higher death rate if you start running out of hospital beds. The narrator doesn’t once mention the concept of “flattening the curve,” because the articles I found didn’t talk about it.

Check this out from her story, on social distancing:

Probably wherever you live you’re hearing about “social distancing,” which in most places means “we’re going to shut down the schools and movie theaters and other places where folks might gather, stagger work hours to minimize crowding, and instruct everyone to wear face masks and not stand too close to each other when they’re waiting in lines.

On running out of things more than usual, and on the guilt of complaining about healthy people problems:

I kind of want to tell you all the things we’re out of. Like, AA batteries. (I had to track down a corded mouse from the closet where we shove all the electronic stuff we don’t use anymore, because my cordless mouse uses AA batteries.) Dishwasher detergent. (We still have dish soap, but you can’t put that in a dishwasher. So we’re washing everything by hand.) But you remember when we used to say, “first-world problems” about petty complaints? These are healthy-person problems.

On what carries on:

Jo did get presents, despite my cluelessness. The mail is still coming—some days—and her father remembered. A big box full of presents ordered from online showed up late in the day, signed “with love from Mom and Dad,” which made her cry.

On the interminability of it:

Some days it’s hard to imagine that this will ever be over, that we’ll ever be able to get things back to normal at all. When everyone is sniping at each other it feels like you’ve always been trapped in the middle of a half-dozen bickering children and always will be. When you’re in the midst of grief, it’s hard to imagine spring ever coming.

Found via Waxy.