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This summer’s blockbusters are really about overpopulation

This past May, the fourth novel in Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon saga, "Inferno," hit shelves. June saw the release of the anticipated "Man of Steel" in theaters nationwide. At first glance, these two cultural products have little in common except for, perhaps, the hype they’ve generated among their respective fans. But close reading reveals that both touch on one major contemporary issue: overpopulation.

In "Inferno," Brown’s renowned Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is off crusading again to save the world from a cataclysmic disaster. Readers and critics alike might find themselves wondering: “So, what else is new?” But the upcoming conflict engages with some fascinating, albeit ominous, issues. The “bad guy,” a famous geneticist named Bertrand Zobrist, whose obsession with the work of the 13th century Florentine writer Dante Alighieri is more than apparent throughout the story’s twists and turns, is against many global measures seemingly aimed at improving human existence. His nemesis in the novel is the World Health Organization, and more specifically, its director Elizabeth Sinskey, with whom he first discloses some of his more “radical” persuasions. With Langdon’s help, Sinskey and her allies spend the majority of the novel trying to keep Zobrist from executing his plan.

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