The events depicted in The End of October were meant to serve as a cautionary tale. But real life doesn't always wait for warnings. As I write, the entire world is enveloped in a viral disease much like the one I imagined within these pages.
It's been said that the book is a kind of prophecy, but I see it simply as the result of careful research. I asked the question: what is the gravest threat to human civilization? Nuclear war and global warming are existential threats, but throughout history diseases have periodically capsized societies. A century has passed since the 1918 Spanish flu that killed between fifty and a hundred million people. What if something like that returned, in our time, where travel is rapid and cities are densely populated and public health has receded as a primary concern?
I have applied the same rigorous standards that I bring to my nonfiction. Nothing presented here as factual is invented. I interviewed many scientists and epidemiologists who are now at the forefront of America's effort to constrain the pandemic. As for the geopolitics I describe, I merely extended trends I observed in the world to certain logical conclusions. I spoke to top government officials and military figures. Everyone I spoke to shared the concerns I expressed herein; something like this could happen. And now it has.
Of course, this book is a novel. One with heroes and villains and a clock ticking in the background. It was exciting to research and to write, and what I learned gave me hope about our institutions and the people who are working to shield us from catastrophe. I was particularly impressed by the ingenuity and courage of the people who have dedicated their lives to public health. It is to them that the novel is dedicated.
I hope you enjoy it.