Eerily prescient 2020 plague novels



Where the pandemic is central to The Pull of the Stars, in Hamnet it is a dark presence hovering over the book, just as the bubonic plague hovered over England throughout Shakespeare’s lifetime, having begun in the 14th Century as the ‘Black Death’. But it strikes Agnes’s family like lightning, depicted in ominous detail. Young Hamnet sees how sick his twin sister, Judith, is, and questions his mother. “‘She’s got . . . it,’ Hamnet says, in a hoarse whisper, ‘Hasn’t she?’” His hesitation makes clear what “it” means. Agnes knows the symptoms, the buboes, or lumps “straining at the skin” in her daughter’s neck and under her arms. Hamnet is frightened by a figure who appears at the door, “tall, cloaked in black, and in the place of a face is a hideous, featureless mask, pointed like the beak of a giant bird.” This turns out to be the doctor in a protective mask, who will not set foot in the house but delivers a message to the family. They must stay inside until “the pestilence is past.” O’Farrell’s audacious leaps of imagination may be rooted in the 16th Century, and her novel completed before scientists had even heard of Covid-19, but the fear and grief experienced during that era of plague is quite like our own.

The End of October, which Wright began in 2017, is based on research and interviews with scientists who have long seen a pandemic coming. The novel might have landed as a warning, but now its jaw-dropping parallels to the current crisis make it seem prophetic. Wright is a noted journalist who has written books about 9-11 and Scientology, and his novel is less literary in its ambitions than Donoghue’s or O’Farrell’s. Nevertheless, he creates a compelling narrative focused on the fictional Henry Parsons, an infectious disease specialist for the Centers for Disease Control in the US, who travels to Indonesia to investigate the first reports of a new disease. “It could be a coronavirus like Sars or Mers,” Henry speculates. Soon the fictional disease, called Kongoli flu, destroys national economies and sets off global political crises. Henry follows its trail to Saudi Arabia, where Mecca has to be quarantined during the Hajj. In real life, this year the Hajj was cancelled, one of the few points at which reality is not quite as bad as what Henry faces.



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Giants win thriller eerily similar to 2019 Prelim


GWS has won a thrilling contest over Collingwood, holding on by the skin of their teeth and with an assist from the shortened quarters, in a finish eerily similar to the 2019 Preliminary Final.

Jeremy Cameron kicked the sealing goal late in the fourth term to give his side the 66-64 win.

The Magpies dominated the fourth quarter, pumping the ball inside 50 and having multiple chances to take the lead, but they ultimately couldn’t convert when it mattered most.

It will be a sorry flight home for Collingwood not only because of the loss, but what appears to be a serious injury to Jeremy Howe.

Here’s everything you need to know!

The Medical Room: Both sides lose important defenders

GWS had all the momentum early in the third term, before losing both Phil Davis and Zac Williams to hamstring injuries.

Williams had the most touches on the ground to that point in the game, while Davis had taken Mason Cox completely out of the game.

The Giants have battled injuries to key players consistently over the last few years and have been hit hard once again.

Collingwood’s Jeremy Howe was similarly the most important player on the ground for the Pies until deep in the fourth quarter before colliding with Jacob Hopper and coming off second best.

The replay showed Howe’s leg twisting awkwardly in the collision and the defender was carried from the ground unable to put any weight through the leg.

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley said early signs point towards a PCL and MCL injury.

“We won’t see him for a while,” Buckley said post-match.

The Moment: The final minutes

Jeremy Cameron and Mason Cox traded goals in the final two minutes of the game and it ultimately came down to whether the Pies could win the clearance, get the ball forward and kick a match-winning goal.

Despite Brodie Grundy’s clear advantage in the ruck, the GWS midfield did brilliantly, sitting on the ball and locking it in as time wasted away.

Tom Green showed his strength on the inside of stoppages in the dying stages and was key to the Giants holding on.

FULL SCORE
GWS Giants: 1.3, 4.4, 8.6, 10.6. (66)
Collingwood: 2.2, 4.4, 8.5, 9.10. (64)

GOALS
GWS Giants: Greene 3, Cameron 2, Finlayson, Green, Kelly, Perryman, Ward
Collingwood: Mihocek 2, Phillips 2, Stephenson 2, Cox, Crisp, Daicos

BEST
GWS Giants: Greene, Whitfield, Haynes, Taylor, Green, Cameron
Collingwood: Howe, Pendlebury, Moore, Roughead, Adams, Grundy

Reports: Nil

Injuries:
GWS Giants: Davis (hamstring), Williams (hamstring)
Collingwood: Howe (knee)








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