This would have been a late 50s, early 60s story in a pulp such as Galaxy or Worlds of If.

A research team is trying to locate the vector for a lethal plague which is sweeping the world. They are, as I recall, in a sealed lab with a waldo-equipped autopsy room for dissection of cadavers.

Despite their best efforts at isolation, one of the team (a pretty young woman, of course) comes down with the plague. Her superior eventually realizes that the plague does not affect smokers, and she's the only one on the team who doesn't smoke. The day is saved, humanity gets the cure, and the scientist gets the girl.

So, what's the story?

  • @ApproachingDarknessFish - Thanks for the title edt. May 12, 2017 at 22:19
  • Are you pretty sure it was in one of the two magazines you mentioned, or could it just as well have been in some other magazine such as Astounding?
    – user14111
    May 12, 2017 at 23:04
  • @user14111 - Oh, absolutely. Might even have been in Analog. May 12, 2017 at 23:34
  • I don't know the story, but I thought it might have been in Astoundalog on account of the pro-smoking or anti-anti-smoking editorials Campbell used to write.
    – user14111
    May 12, 2017 at 23:54

1 Answer 1


Pandemic by Jesse Franklin Bone. Published in Analog, just as suggested in the comments.

The wise old man Dr. Kramer explains:

Who gets this disease? Youngsters--with nearly one hundred per cent morbidity and one hundred per cent mortality. Adults--less than fifty per cent morbidity--and again one hundred per cent mortality. What makes the other fifty per cent immune? Your crack about leather lungs started me thinking--so I fed the data cards into the computer and keyed them for smoking versus incidence. And I found that not one heavy smoker had died of Thurston's Disease. Light smokers and nonsmokers--plenty of them--but not one single nicotine addict.

The girl, Mary Barton, is infected and cured by forcing her to smoke cigarettes.

  • Nicely done, sir. The phrase "leather lungs" and the name Mary Barton convince me your are correcf. It's amazing what details stick in the memory, May 13, 2017 at 12:45
  • @WhatRoughBeast You noticed that the whole story is available at Project Gutenberg?
    – user14111
    May 13, 2017 at 14:10
  • The "wise old man" says in the story: "I'm not young. I'm thirty-five . . ."
    – user14111
    May 13, 2017 at 14:12
  • @user14111: yes, I was being a bit ironic with the wise old man meme :-) May 13, 2017 at 14:35
  • Or, in Heinleinian terms, the Competent Man. Who, yes, is usually at least not young. May 13, 2017 at 14:45

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