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What's that story/movie/book?

Posted: 03 Apr 2021, 03:54
by Jennifer
I thought we had a thread where you could describe a slightly-remembered bit of something you read or saw once, in hope that someone would recognize it, but either it was on a vanished old forum, or I just can't find it.

There was a science-fiction story, I think from the late 1940s or early 50s when Britain was still living through postwar austerity -- where aliens come and do something-or-other (possibly a virus) so that every person infected immediately has extreme empathy -- whatever feeling or emotion you make another feel, you feel it equally. What makes me specifically think it dates to the immediate postwar era is that I specifically remember mention of how meat suddenly became very expensive because slaughterhouse workers could no longer bear to do their jobs, unless they were paid exorbitant amounts of money, and some woman in Britain said something like "I don't feel sorry for those Americans, with their beefsteaks every [day or week, I don't recall]."

Also -- I think this was a different story, not the same one -- I recall another one where aliens come and hover in sight of us but don't say or do anything, and meanwhile a virus erupts on earth so that everyone infected becomes completely telepathic, able to hear everyone's thoughts and everyone can hear yours, and there's no way to stop the virus despite all our best efforts, and people figure out the virus came from the aliens, and when humans finally figure out a way to communicate with them (after the virus has hit everyone and it's too late to do anything), the people asked "Why did you do this terrible thing to us?" and the aliens were shocked -- they thought they were doing us a favor, because they figured we must all be terribly lonely all the time, able to hear only our own selves think and nobody else.