The Blue Germ

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Author: Maurice Nicoll (Martin Swayne)
Published: 1917
Language: English
Wordcount: 49,419 / 148 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 80.6
LoC Category: PR
Downloads: 1,456
Added to site: 2008.10.09 22299

Two scientists and would-be benefactors of humanity discover a germ which combats disease and decay and they introduce the bacillus into the water supply of a great city. Strange results follow such as an uncontrollable fear of physical violence, this being the only way by which man my now meet death, the cessation of all desire and the social confusion arising from the doing away with natural death. At length everyone is overcome by a drowsiness and after a seven days' sleep the inhabitants recover from the effect of the blue germ and welcome back the natural order of things.

Show Excerpt

on closer inspection I saw what they were.

"Butterflies!" I exclaimed.

He held up a warning finger and tiptoed to the door. He opened it suddenly and seemed relieved to find no one outside.

"Hush!" he said, closing the door again. "Yes, they are butterflies." He came back to the table and gave one of the glass panels a tap with his finger. The butterflies stirred and some spread their wings. They were a brilliant greenish purple shot with pale blue. "Yes, they are butterflies."

I peered at them.

"The specimen is unknown in England as far as I know."

"Quite so. They are peculiar to Russia."

"But what are you doing with them?" I asked.

He continued to smile.

"Do you notice anything remarkable about these butterflies?"

"No," I said after prolonged observation, "I can't say I do ... save that they are not denizens of this country."

"I think we might christen them," he said. "Let us call them Lepidoptera Sarakoffii." He tapped the glass


Average Rating of 3 from 2 reviews: ***
Henry L. Ratliff

(1917) Sci-fi
Plot bullets

  • Two men invent a new bacillus.

  • They are so sure it will benefit man, that they take it upon themselves to initiate its use.

  • The world will have its untried benefits without their knowledge.

  • Side effects, yes.

  • Mistake, yes.

  • Can it be undone?

Leah A. Zeldes

An early "what if?" story on the limits of longevity. It's not lively writing, but it keeps your attention fairly well until it fizzles to an unsatisfying end.

Two scientists develop a germ that wipes out illness and decay. Incredibly, they don't test it, but release it into the water supply, infecting millions with immortality -- to unexpected results. Along with disease, the germ also kills "worldly ambition, self-gratification, physical pleasure, conceit, lust, hatred, passion, egotism, selfishness, vanity, avarice, sensuality" ... all the things that give people reasons to live.

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