The Pandemic Novelist Has Regrets

Thea Lim in Guernica:

The virus has punctured the dream that any built item in our world just wondrously appears, in our stores or on our screens. Instead, like the casing coming off an enormous clock, we see how our way of life relies on millions of people, working together. Like cogs in that clock, tipping over the edge of a cliff.

Finally, the pandemic blockbuster must resolve, and this is its most useless trait. It always ends the same way—in Outbreak and Contagion, but even in clever, deft stories with a greater understanding of geopolitics, like 28 Days Later and World War Z. The vaccine is found. Everyone exhales. Credits roll.

But the containment of the virus is not the end. That’s only where our troubles begin. A vaccine will be found, but COVID-19 has surfaced every social ill we’ve tried to silence: gender violenceprison conditionsracism and racial inequitythe treatment of migrant workersthe homelessness epidemic, the miserable precarity of people who thought they were doing fine under capitalism. A vaccine can’t delete the irreparable harm done by this disaster, especially not the harm that was already happening, under the skin.

More here.