Set in 2023, Lauren Beukes’s Afterland captures the devastating effects of a global viral
pandemic. About three years prior, a highly contagious virus, called the human culgoa
virus (HCV), induced terminal prostate cancer and killed around four billion men.
Steeped in grief after the abrupt loss of fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons, coupled
with the gaping holes left behind in previously male-dominated industries, the
remaining female population have not recovered from the blow. Society is in a state of
disrepair, and with no cure in sight, women are barred from further procreation. The few
males who have proven immune against HCV have become hot commodities for various
agendas, so the odds are stacked against Cole in her bid to return home to Johannesburg
with her young son, Miles.