Book’s eerie coronavirus prediction
Did a paperback thriller predict the deadly coronavirus outbreak nearly 40 years before it happened?
Excerpts from The Eyes Of Darkness, a 1981 book by prolific American author Dean Koontz, have been going viral online after a social media user noted creepy similarities to the current crisis.
The 312-page novel follows grieving mother Christina Evans as she tries to find out what really happened to her son Danny, a year after he died on a camping trip.
She discovers that Danny is actually alive and being held in a secret military base, having accidentally been infected with a man-made bioweapon created at a research centre in Wuhan, China.
"A Chinese scientist named Li Chen defected to the United States, carrying a diskette record of China's most important and dangerous new biological weapon of the past decade," one character says in the book.
"They call the stuff 'Wuhan-400' because it was developed at their RDNA labs outside the city of Wuhan, and it was the fourth-hundredth viable strain of man-made microorganisms created at the research centre."
A Dean Koontz novel written in 1981 predicted the outbreak of the coronavirus! pic.twitter.com/bjjqq6TzOl— Nick Hinton (@NickHintonn) February 16, 2020
The 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, which began in Wuhan in December, has now killed 2770 people and infected 81,315, gaining a toehold on every continent except Antarctica - sparking fears of a global pandemic.
One pervasive online conspiracy theory is that the virus did not come from a food market as officials claim, but actually escaped from a Chinese bioweapons lab called the Wuhan Institute of Virology, 32km from the epicentre.
The virus described in the novel has a 100 per cent fatality rate, unlike COVID-19 which sits at around 2 per cent. The characters explain that the Chinese intended to use it "to wipe out a city or a country" without the need for "expensive decontamination".
"Wuhan-400 is a perfect weapon. It afflicts only human beings. No other living creature can carry it. And like syphilis, Wuhan-400 can't survive outside a living human body for longer than a minute, which means it can't permanently contaminate objects or entire places the way anthrax and other virulent microorganisms can," one character says.
"And when the host expires, the Wuhan-400 within him perishes a short while later, as soon as the temperature of the corpse drops below eighty-six degrees Fahrenheit. Do you see the advantage of all this?"
Speaking to the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong crime author Chan Ho-kei said that this kind of "fiction-prophecy" was not uncommon. "If you look really hard, I bet you can spot prophecies for almost all events," he said. "It makes me think about the 'infinite monkey' theorem. The probability is low, but not impossible."
Interestingly, in the original 1981 version of The Eyes Of Darkness, the virus was said to have come from Russia and was named "Gorki-400" after the city where it was created. The name was changed to Wuhan-400 in a 1989 reissue of the book, it is thought due to the end of the Cold War.
In the same year, another author also "predicted" the coronavirus outbreak. American author Sylvia Browne's 2008 book End Of Days: Predictions And Prophecies About The End Of The World, contains another passage that has gained attention on social media.
"In around 2020 a severe pneumonia-like illness will spread throughout the globe, attacking the lungs and the bronchial tubes and resisting all known treatments. Almost more baffling than the illness itself will be the fact that it will suddenly vanish as quickly as it arrived, attack again 10 years later, and then disappear completely," it says.