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A novel with a body eating itself from the inside is sure to generate some deep thinking, especially when, while fictional, it presents real scientific possibilities. The Cobra Event, a bone-chilling novel by Richard Preston, does just that. A secret counter-terror operation starts off with a high school student feeling ill and a few hours later, she undergoes self-cannibalization and dies soon after. With the occurrence of similar ghastly deaths, a pathologist is sent to investigate. A federal crisis is discovered – someone in New York City has been breeding a virus and using it as a bioweapon. Their actions go against my morals; I would never intentionally hurt someone even if I thought it was for the greater good.
We live in a world where there are high threats of terrorism. Preston brings the fear of bioweapons to the forefront, creating feelings of anxiety. While the story is fiction, it’s based on the dreadfully real possibilities of modern science, making it unsettling that it could potentially come true. The fact that our military has had a biological weapons program since 1943 does nothing to allay my fears; there are biological weapons potentially waiting to be used. Utilizing these weapons would impact our world severely. There could be war, mass death, and epidemic.
Preston also challenged my thinking about humankind. Yes, the ever-growing population of the planet causes many social, political, and natural issues, and a decreased number of people might help alleviate some of the problems. I can see how a person might think the world needs a quick fix. However, the villain’s method of killing millions of people is just not legitimate. It’s not ethical. I have faith in the brilliant minds of this world to find superior alternatives in fixing ongoing problems without using bioweapons.
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