This week, WW is launching "Distant Voices," a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they're doing during quarantine.
When it comes to plague, Portland author Emily Suvada has imagined the worst.
Her science fiction Mortal Coil trilogy describes people living in air-tight bunkers to avoid a virus that causes people to explode in bloody clouds, spreading the disease.
The bunkers are run by a mega-corporation called Cartaxus that sells gene-editing apps. At birth, almost everyone is implanted with a "panel" that can cure disease and change one's abilities and appearance. People edit their genes the way we edit playlists on Spotify, often with their own hacks.
Suvada wrote the first Mortal Coil book in 2017, when few people outside of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention knew what a coronavirus was. Suvada wishes Covid-19 had never arisen, but she wasn't surprised by it.
Before writing books, Suvada got a degree in math and theoretical astrophysics from the University of Sydney. Instead of peering into space, she went to work in finance as a "quant," trying to predict trends in the stock market. Now, she is devouring as much data as she can to predict the course of coronavirus.
"I've got crazy spreadsheets," she says.
So what does a sci-fi writer with a serious data habit expect? Give the interview a listen. No spoilers, but Suvada says she's an "unflagging optimist," which is impressive for someone who imagined a dystopia worthy of Logan's Run. Given that, she doesn't expect the mailman to blow up in a bloody cloud anytime soon.