inferno

Did you ever watch Avengers: Infinity War and deep down felt that maybe Thanos was right? Maybe he was the one saving the world and not the avengers? Maybe what he did was for the best of all humanity? 

If yes, then you might get the same feeling while reading “Inferno” by Dan Brown.

“Inferno” can be seen as a thriller, engaging readers in exiting pursuits and implausible escapes, employing a mixture of cultural history and suspense which has become the author’s trademark, and involving a number of stock characters: a genius scientist, a number of intriguing and intimidating women, and Robert Langdon.

Inferno begins with Robert Langdon, a celebrated Harvard professor of art and symbology, who wakes up in a hospital in Florence, with little recollection of what has happened to him. There, he escapes an assassination attempt with the help of his doctor, Sienna Brooks. Soon Robert realizes that some mysterious people are trying to kill him, including his own government, who probably wants him dead. He also finds a cylinder with a biohazard sign in his jacket. The cylinder was fitted with a hi-tech projector displaying a modified version of Map of Hell which was inspired by Dante’s Inferno. 

In his attempts to decipher the riddles, Langdon comes to know of a potential plague threat by the genius scientist Bertrand Zobrist, who believes the human species will come to an end in a century due to ever-increasing population. Zobrist firmly believes that the only solution to this problem is is the human population is reduced to one-third by some drastic measures. After WHO chief, Elizabeth Sinskey, refuses to listen to him, Zobrist decides to take matters in his own hands. He hires a secretive group, The Consortium, to hide him from the world for a year. Zobrist builds a deadly airborne virus that would infect everybody on the planet within a week. The virus being developed by the Zobrist was assumed to be a ‘death doctor’ of sorts, which will cut the world population to four billion. 

However, the vector virus turnouts to randomly activates to employ DNA changes to cause sterility in one-third of humans. 

Ironically, one of the more compelling mysteries in “Inferno” doesn’t have to do with art history, but with the science future, with very real questions about the population explosion and humanity’s responsibility for the earth. Questions like ‘What are virologists more worried about, emerging diseases or manufactured ones’?

Inferno uses literary techniques to probe and outline some of the tensions and paradoxes of virology, thus providing a window into social and cultural dimensions of biomedical research. The story churns out surprise after surprise and you keep on guessing who the real culprit is.   

One of the most interesting things about the novel is the different lights under which we view Zobrist:

Zobrist the scientific expert: an internationally renowned biochemist. 

Zobrist the psychopath: a bioterrorist.

Zobrist the visionary: a representative on the transhumanist philosophy of the future. 

Personally, I like to view Zobrist as a scientific expert and a visionary. Because I am a fan of the truth, even if it’s hard to accept. 

Because even though the WHO boss agrees that the population growth needs to be checked, the only thing they do to contain population is handing out free condoms in Africa which ends up in “landfills overflowing with unused condoms” which only cause environmental problems. 

We humans always tend to overlook the uncomfortable reality of the world will become in another twenty-something year if the population continues to grow at the current rate. Why? Because our mind negates things which causes too much stress for the brain to handle, it’s called Denial. 

“Denial is a critical part of the human coping mechanism. Without it, we would all wake up terrified every morning about all the ways we could die. Instead, our minds block out our existential fears by focusing on stresses we can handle—like getting to work on time or paying our taxes.” – Robert Langdon, Inferno. 

But just because the human mind can’t imagine something from happening, doesn’t mean it won’t. “There comes a moment in history when ignorance is no longer a forgivable offense… a moment when only wisdom has the power to absolve. – Bertrand Zobrist”