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Short Story Scifi Idea


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I came up with an idea for a short story, but I don't know if someone has already written something similar. I'm hoping the more read around here can advise.

 

I only have the very basic idea for plot so far.

 

Companies are mining aluminum from landfills and it has become a global business worth billions. At one of the landfills, a mutated bacteria is exposed and it causes a massive outbreak. The story would conclude with scientists finding another microbe in the same landfill that has adapted genes necessary for resisting the bacteria.

 

Some themes I would like to explore: human waste, the environment, and scientists as mankind's heroes.

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Ditto what Farming guy said.

 

I’m a pretty avid sci fi reader, and I can’t recall a story where a pandemic pathogen came from a landfill. A deep cave, the ocean floor, a deep ice-covered Antarctic lake, yes, commercial interests involved, yes, but a landfill, no.

 

I just finished reading, for the first time, Gregory Benford’s 1980 Campbell and Nebula award-winning Timescape, and was impressed with how well he sketched out, without going into deep detail, what a human extinction-threatening pathogen might be like, biologically. You might find it food of thought, and helpful in you writing.

 

Most pathogens are infectious – that is, parasite-like, they use a host’s cells to propagate themselves, so it’s to their advantage not to kill their hosts too quickly, or kill to many of their population. A nastier kind of pathogen is one that’s doesn’t use a host, but rather “wants” the hosts’ ecological niches, and evolves a way to clear the niche by killing off its competitors. The cyanobacteria that cause the 2,400,000,000 year-ago “great oxygenation event”, may be pathogens of this sort, as they wiped out most other lifeforms on earth, but “friendly” mass-extinction even causer, as they opened a gigantic new niche for new aerobic organisms of many kinds, including us, and a simple one, as the means of the extinction was the O2 molecule. Imagine something that created a big molecule like C4H10FO2P, that killed any organism that used acetylcholine in its nervous system – pretty much everything with a nervous system. :(

 

Of course, not microbiological SF story has to be about a ELE. Something like an antique influenza virus unlike any in recent experience could be nasty enough, without threatening to wipe out every higher organisms on earth.

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