I'm looking for a novel I once read with a plot that involved the American and the Russian scientists developing a biological weapon. It was to be used against a limited number of the Earth's population to try and stop conflict on Earth by making people think that they were being invaded from space. The term 'Common Enemy' comes to mind.

The rationale was to pick two similar sized cities in America and Russia of roughly a population of 1 million in each and to use the weapon on each city simultaneously to wipe out the population and then blame an alien invasion. It was determined that this action would stop all conflicts on Earth and focus attention starwards thus achieving peace by tackling a 'common enemy'. The weapon was developed in complete secrecy after which all the scientists were eliminated so that the details were kept secure.

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    Where to start? "The Voice Of The Dolphin" from Leo Szilard has this theme, with the major differences being that's it's dolphins, not aliens, and merely a warning of some kind of threat to humanity. It's the key to the "WATCHMEN" Graphic novel's ending, though that's a one-man operation. And in one recent novel, the Russians do it to scare their populace into arming up and hope to frighten the USA into submission, only to find that their hoax is all too real ( Don't recall the name sorry ) Feb 20, 2016 at 2:26
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    @SteveHunt I've put up a bounty for your question. You re-asking it drew my attention. Right now would be a good time to edit in any details you might remember, such as when you read it. We also have a list of details that would help us and might help jog your memory.
    – SQB
    Dec 4, 2019 at 9:27
  • The classic story about using superscientific gadgets to fake an alien invasion threat in order to unify mankind is Theodore Sturgeon's 1948 story "Unite and Conquer" but of course that's not what you're looking for.
    – user14111
    Jan 5, 2020 at 9:42

2 Answers 2


This is superficially similar to the plot of the graphic novel Watchmen.

Spoilers for the graphic novel, and some for the movie ahead and unmarked. The spoilers make up a substantial amount of this answer, and thus are not marked.

The main antagonist of Watchmen, Ozymandias (Adrian Veidt) plans to save the world by giving the world an external threat to prepare against. In the graphic novel, this threat is a supposed race of aliens, of which an initial 'invader' resembles an alien squid.

To this end, he collects a large number of artists, designers, writers, etc on an island. They are all hired in secret and sign NDAs that prevent them from discussing their new project, then 'disappear' completely voluntarily. They are pampered and treated well, and spend quite a while (up to and including a year, if I recall) working in secret. These creative people were responsible for developing the entirety of an alien species, from biological and sociological details to their history, mythology, aesthetics, and plans. These writers and creators, primarily from horror genres, are told this is part of a massive horror project which will redefine the genre, and all participate enthusiastically.

When they have completed their work, Adrian eliminates them all.

Adrian loads all of the information these artists have created into the created mind of a genetically-engineered creature that resembles one of the species the artists developed. This creature has a brain that contains enormous psychic potential. The creature plan is for the creature to then be teleported into the middle of New York, using a device Adrian's company has been developing in secret. The teleporter is known to be ineffective, killing the teleported subject on arrival. The squid is engineered such that on its death it will send out a psychic shock that will kill huge amounts of nearby people and be felt by those who are psychicly sensitive around the world. Those who are sensitive will also receive portions of the knowledge uploaded to the squid.

Adrian's plan is for this to appear to be the first step in an invasion plan, only for the alien's teleportation to have unexpectedly failed and killed the initial invader. The knowledge sent out 'by accident' upon the invader's death would be spread across the globe, ensuring that all governments received independent confirmation of the data. Adrian's plan was for this to give the governments an exterior foe to focus on.

Some of his old allies (the protagonists of the comic) pieces most of this together over the book, and Adrian - seemingly in traditional supervillain fashion - helpfully fills in the rest of the plan for them when they confront him in his base (where he has just finished killing the scientists and researchers who helped him develop the genetic, psychic, and teleportation technologies).

The protagonists declare that they will stop him, leading to one of the most iconic panels in comic history.

Adrian 'did it' thirty-five minutes ago

This meets most of the criteria in the question - the scientists and researchers working for Veidt were eliminated after they succeeded (as were the artists and writers who worked on other parts of the project), the 'villain' did create a biological weapon (the squid) to attack a city, and the goal was for the governments of the world to have a new, external, existential threat to focus on.


This is possibly Wild Card by Raymond Hawkey and Roger Bingham (1974).

Extract from synopsis on Google Books:

The United States is in factional anarchy - a Presidential aid comes up with a plan to unite the country by presenting it with an external threat - a group of super scientists are pulled together to realise the threat - the scientists aren't told the whole of the details - the threat is delivered - the President is a hero and the country pulls together.

The twist lies in a couple of the scientists finding out what they weren't supposed to know, and their attempts to make this knowledge available to the wider world

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    Thanks for your suggestion. I recently bought a copy of ‘Wild Card’ and thoroughly enjoyed it but it wasn’t the book that I enquired about originally even though the plots were similar. Guess I need to keep looking.
    – Steve Hunt
    Jan 6, 2020 at 11:35

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