Influenza is a scary disease. It mutates regularly, spreads easily, and regularly kills tens of thousands of Americans every year — and that’s just the regular flu. What if Mother Earth’s petri dish spits out a super-lethal flu virus? It has happened before.
Back in 1918, the Spanish Flu infected roughly one-third of the world’s population and killed somewhere between 20 and 50 million people. (Gina Kolata’s Flu is one of my favorite books on the topic. The Great Influenza is good, too.) Something similar to it — or worse — could strike any year. What might that look like? Here are five authors who dared to imagine the worst.