Scientific Crisis Stories

These tales revolve around an impending disaster which can only be solved by, or is a direct result of, modern scientific methods. The crisis is often generated by mishandled or stolen bacteria cultures which are being developed in the United States germ warfare program, as in Henry Sutton's Vector. Or the crisis may be a biological attack on the U.S., as in James Henderson's fast-moving Copperhead. Or the threat may come from some bizarre source, such as outer space, as in Michael Crichton's best-selling The Andromeda Strain.

Usually, your hero will be a research scientist or a medical doctor. The suspense comes from his continuing attempts to neutralize the crisis and the continual worsening of the situation despite all that is being done. To make your hero seem real and his efforts believable, you will need to study, carefully, whatever scientific background the crisis and the plot require.

Because a layman is usually not acquainted with the basic facts of any particular science, the research for such a novel may require months, or more time than you are willing to put into it. If that is the case with your novel, but you feel the idea is still valid, reconsider the way your story was originally to be told and see if the scientist or doctor protagonist can be replaced by either an average citizen caught up in the disaster, or by an FBI or CIA agent who is trying to discover the roots of the crisis. In either case, you will need to know quite a bit of science to write the taleā€”but less than you would to create a believable scientist or doctor hero whose intimacy with laboratory methods and theory is difficult for a layman to properly reconstruct.

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