The Last of Us TV series, like the popular video game it is based on, takes place in a dystopian near future where a global pandemic has ravaged the world.
Unlike other zombie stories, the origin of the outbreak in The Last of Us is a fungus, which possesses people and makes them aggressive and attack those who are not infected in order to spread.
As we have seen throughout history, humanity has faced and survived many pandemics, with COVID-19 being one of the most recent examples. However, the question remains, what are the chances that the cordyceps virtus fungus present in the series could become a reality?
Paul Edward Stamets, who has already watched the second episode of The Last of Us, has used his social media platforms to share his knowledge of fungi and to explain whether or not it is possible for us to experience something similar to the apocalyptic scenario depicted in the series.
As a fan of both science fiction and mushrooms, Stamets finds it intriguing to see how they are used in the HBO Max series to tell the story.
However, Stamets emphasizes that The Last of Us is purely “fiction” and that the writers have used “mycology” and “mycophobia” (the fear of fungi) to tell their story.
“It is natural for humans to fear that which is powerful but mysterious and misunderstood,” Stamets says. He goes on to say, “But all organisms must eat. There are animals that are predators. There are plants that are predatory. There are fungi that are predators. We are all part of a giant food web where we sustain each other.”
Stamets concludes by praising the writers for taking advantage of the public’s fascination, fear, and joy for mushrooms to create a literary adventure in the realm of science fiction.
He says, “So I applaud the writers for seeing this opportunity to take us on a literary adventure in the realm of science fiction while exploiting the public’s fascination, fear and joy for mushrooms.”