Thriller Science: Dead pigs in Chinese river

I’m always looking for real-life anecdotes that resemble scenes from a science thriller novel. This week, a news story out of China would make a terrific opening scene. Anybody  feel inspired to write a short story starting with this scene?

Headline: “Hundreds more dead pigs found in Chinese river” (The Guardian, Friday, March 15) (Many other news outlets are also covering the story.)

The story: More than 8,000 dead pigs have been found in a river that provides drinking water to 23 million people in Shanghai. Speculation is that the pigs died of disease on farms and were dumped in the river.

The science thriller questions: How did the pigs die? Natural causes? Secret experimentation? An emerging infection? Aliens? Who dumped them? Why?

I don’t have a specific story idea but some of the possibilities are obvious–and while they might make good fodder for a scary story, they also might be the frightening truth. Pigs carry influenza (swine flu), and new influenza viruses are known to breed in this part of the world. While flu is not normally spread via water, one could imagine any number of ways these carcasses could transmit some other new disease.  Public health disaster could result.

Gruesome video by Associated Press

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5 Responses to Thriller Science: Dead pigs in Chinese river

  1. Dee says:

    Wow this would be a great story…My mind goes to the virus transmitting to humans completely decimating Shanghai. I would elaborate on the extent to which the Chinese government goes to form this virus into a biological weapon to use against their political enemies…very good scenario, but as a prior comment said, easier said than done.

    • Amy Rogers says:

      Thanks for visiting, Dee.

      Biological weapons and urban plagues are always good thriller material. Though the hard part of writing such a thriller is creating a plausible ending–you can’t turn off a plague like flipping a light switch.

  2. Morgan says:

    Whatever backstory you develop for the pigs, in order to set the tone of the times, you’d probably want the headline to take a backseat to accounts of Justin Bieber fainting onstage…

  3. Carrie Rubin says:

    Yes, I saw that story in the paper. Public health disaster in the making, no doubt. It would make a great premise for a piece of fiction for sure. Too bad it takes so much longer to write stories than it does to come up with the ideas!

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