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The end-all be-all blog post debunking how Dean Koontz “predicted” the coronavirus

March 4, 2020

It would be impossible for me to send the following response to everyone tweeting that Dean “predicted” the coronavirus:

Nope. In 1981 version it was “Gorki-400” from Russia. Was not Whuan from China until 1996 revision. And images of 2020 date is from a Sylvia Browne book, not a Koontz book.

By ya know what? I’ve sent it to a heck of a lot of people. Trouble is, my little response doesn’t ever cover all of the claims presented and doesn’t give me a lot of room to back it up. So, henceforth, my new response tweet will be “nope” and a link to this page. Enjoy!

Claim: Dean predicted the corona virus in his 1981 book The Eyes of Darkness

The 1981 “Gorki-400” text

A couple of base-level problems:

  1. Coronavirus is a family of viruses. SARS is a coronavirus. MERS is a coronavirus. Even some forms of the common cold. The current virus is COVID-19. So at best, he “predicted” COVID-19, not coronaviruses. (Way to start an argument Mr. Pedantic.)
  2. In the 1981 book The Eyes of Darkness by Leigh Nichols (yes a pseudonym of Dean’s) the virus is named “Gorki-400” and is from Russia. Russians are convenient bad guys in 1981 due to the existence of the Soviet Union. (Ah the simpler times of the Regan-era.)
  3. The original Twitter post that started all this used a photo of a vaguely current mass market paperback edition. (Can’t tell what printing the tweeter used but that edition was released in 1996 and was the “current” cover until 2008.) It’s obvious the author of that tweet saw the 1981 copyright date in a much more recent edition and thought “Hey! He wrote this is 1981! How prescient!”

Claim: Ok, it was changed from Gorki-400 to Wuhan-400 in the re-release under his own name in 1989?

The 1989 “Gorki-400” text

Yes, the book was re-released under his own name by Dark Harvest in 1989. Guess what? Still “Gorki-400” in that edition. It wasn’t until the 1996 re-re-release that the name of the virus was changed to “Wuhan-400” and it’s origin moved to China. (The relevant Snopes article originally said “1989.” Later said it had changed “by 2008.” As of this writing it just points out that the preview that shows “Wuhan-400” is from a 2008 release.)

Claim: In The Eyes of Darkness Dean specified that a world-wide virus would happen in 2020.

More recent versions of the twitter post have added an additional photo of some text stating “In around 2020 a severe pneumonia-like virus will spread throughout the globe…” In no way do any of these re-tweets point out this this image is not from a page of any edition of The Eyes of Darkness, nor even of any Dean Koontz book. It’s a page from 2008’s End of Days by Sylvia Browne. I’ll let you read about her and her “predictions.” (I’ll wait.) Oh, and that’s just a few years after SARS (2003) so hell, I could have “predicted” it would happen again.

Claim: But “Wuhan-400.” “In around 2020.” 20 times 20 = 400

Nope. Not making this up. It’s out there. Score one for frickin’ numerology.

Claim: So he revised the book and wrote “Wuhan-400” in 1996. That’s still a 24-year-old prediction. What say you?

The 1996 “Wuhan-400” text

A few final points:

  1. Dean revised a whole bunch of his older novels in the mid 1990s.
  2. By 1996 the Soviet Union was no more so who’s the new “bad guy” for the story that would make sense at the time? China.
  3. The Wuhan Institute of Virology was founded in 1956. A minimal amount of research in 1995, even sans-internet, would have made that a good choice of a “source” within China.

Lastly, if you’re still not convinced by all of this it still couldn’t have been Dean who “predicted” it first. The Simpsons beat him by 3 years in 1993. Better yet, the film Akira beat that by another 5 years in 1988. I’ll let you decide.

Update 27 March 2020: Dean’s opinion on the matter…