Rose’s Reviews: The Seneca Scourge

You know those people who don’t wash their hands after they go to the toilet?

The ones that run out of tissues and then wipe their noses on their sleeves?

The ones that sneeze all over you when you’re sitting next to them in the plane?  And then go home and sneeze all over their wives, who sneeze all over their class of eight year olds, who sneeze all over their twenty little friends at Saturday morning Little League…

Well, we should lock them up them now. Because according to the plot set out in Carrie Rubin’s The Seneca Scourge, they’re the ones who are going to spread the next pandemic.  Dr Sydney Knight is a doctor (with a past!) in a hospital in (Boston?) when she gets her first patient, a guy who comes in with a virus much like the common cold and goes out via the morgue with lungs that have mysteriously turned to ‘white frosting’.


Working with Dr Knight is the impossibly handsome virologist Dr Casper (as in the ghost) Jones, who seems to have a very odd bedside manner.  Pretty soon (but probably not as a direct result of the bedside manner) hundreds and then thousands of people are sick.  Where will it all end?  Will the civilised world survive? Will Dr Knight succumb to Dr Jones’ dusky charms?  And more to the point, what’s REALLY going on?

I started this book at 8.30pm and didn’t put it down till I finished it at midnight.  Carrie’s medical knowledge (she’s a doctor) makes this book a very plausible  account of the Next Big Pandemic – with a little something added by way of romance and futurist science fiction.

It sort of begs the question though (that is, it doesn’t, but I want to start an argument) – if you were an alien civilisation charged with the responsible management of various planets, and you looked down and saw the Earth covered with swarming, destructive humans, wouldn’t you consider a pandemic something of a natural environmental control measure?


Where I live, periodically the kangaroos over-breed, due to lots of grass and rain and so on – and then the drought comes and there are too many of them.  So they converge on the shrinking dams, kill the occasional pet dog, and starve.  The wildlife people then ‘cull’ them, much to the angst of animal lovers.  But the animal lovers (so far) always lose, because you can’t exactly herd a pack of kangaroos leaping and bounding to some more verdant place.  There IS no more verdant place (and herding roos is tricky).

So on one level, of course Dr Knight’s doing the right thing, what any of us would do faced with the same situation.  On another long can the human population go on growing, and will we eventually be ‘culled’ by universal wealth and declining birth rates, or something much less pleasant?

Ps – have you written a book and would like a review? You only have to ask!


  1. Never before have I opened my inbox and been so delighted by what I found there. Thank you for the lovely review–was so kind of you to do. As far as I’m concerned, you just racked up dozens of Karma points. 😉

    But sorry that my virus doesn’t affect kangaroos. Maybe next time…

    (I apologize if this comment posted twice. I’m working from my phone and it’s giving me grief.)

  2. One of the things that always annoys me is that the green movement never mentions the population problem – we always hear about finding ways to feed, clothe, house extra people, but never about putting the brakes on the numbers. Always afraid of offending the religious. well, dying of starvation is more offensive than talking about small families. cheers.

    1. I guess, like everything in this world, there are multiple ways of looking at it. The richer people get, the fewer children they have, to the point where replacement rates are an issue in first world countries (why they should be, with so many willing replacements outside first world countries, I don’t know). China’s now reconsidering the one child policy, in light of having heaps of boys and not enough workers. I think as a basic principle, anybody should be able to discuss anything without other people having hissy fits because it’s ‘wrong to think that’. It may be, but shutting people up isn’t the answer.


  3. Now you mention it, Rose, how about a review of my book: THE WAITING ROOM?
    With a readership of about seven and half (+someone’s dog) it could use some publicity. I’d take it very kindly!

    Only half in jest,
    best regards,


  4. Cute roo. I admit … haven’t read your review. (See my email version of excuses). I could write a book on EXCUSES! Hey, there’s an idea!

      1. Yea … my boss used to be a coach, and he’s been a prof for so many years, he’s heard E V E R Y T H I N G … and few new ones from me. I like to be creative when it benefits ME ME ME!

  5. I love your post more and more, always a delight to read. and now you got me thinking of the bathroom door handle as I complete washing my hands as I walk out…must use the paper towel to open the door to go out…never know who was there before me 🙂

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