Sunday, October 28, 2012
Fear the dark
My wife is a police officer and in certain neighborhoods, the police deploy mobile banks of light towers at night. These panels of high-intensity lights are put in high crime areas and theoretically prevent street crime at night. Or scare off the bad guys. (Given the number of robberies in broad daylight, I'm not so sure how well this theory of lights offering protection hold up.) And a patrol car always has to park under the panel of lights while they are on. My sweetie has to do this on occasion and we make jokes about the lights and the virals. But still, in Washington, DC, in neighborhoods not too far from the White House or the Capitol, some streets are so dangerous, lights have to be deployed for fear of attack by marauders. (I suppose this is an attempt at a high-tech solution but it feels so primitive.) (And given the epidemic levels of HIV infection in this city - worst in the nation - the viral parallel and the risk of infection is also too close for comfort in another way.)
Hurricane Sandy is about to hit the Washington, DC area. Or most of the East Coast, including us. And most media coverage of the storm concerns the prospect of flooding and power outages. We had an ultra-violent thunderstorm this summer that left much of the Washington area without power for up to a week afterwards and people are nervous about losing power again. For the most part, nothing bad happened when the power was out. There were many inconveniences and people were miserable but no one really died. But the level of hysteria in media coverage of events might lead one to think that there was or could have been loss of life. Not the case, unlike when a colony only defended by a wall and banks of lights against virals loses power and the lights go out.
The other bit of real world news from my re-reading of The Passage concerns Newsweek magazine. As you may have heard, Newsweek announced the death of its print edition last week. On page 583 of my paperback copy of The Passage, Peter Jaxon finds an ancient copy of Newsweek in an abandoned firestation in the California desert, one hundred years or so into the future. The issue he finds has a photo of a viral on the cover with the headline "Believe It." When I read The Passage the first time in the summer of 2010, Newsweek was alive. But by the time of this reread in the fall of 2012, it is about to stop printing (it will live on as a digital edition) and now it won't ever be possible to create a fictional world where somebody will find an old paper copy of Newsweek in the ruins somewhere.