37

I read this in the 1980s, though it might have been published much earlier (I had a huge stack of paperbacks from an older cousin).

Basically, the scientist protagonist (plus maybe a collaborator) finds a way to cure the common cold, and tests it on himself. (The scientist and his colleague are men; the only woman I recall is his wife, of no specific occupation, who has a cold. This likely indicates a story written pre-1960.)

It works; he breathes with complete ease - and discovers that everyone and everything around him stink. Stale smoke, stale perfume, body odor, food on people's breath, he can suddenly smell everything, and he hates it. And of course everybody else is completely oblivious to this.

In the end he finally manages to engineer a stronger cold virus so he can get his cold back and live in relative comfort.

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    @forest FWIW, it wasn't intended as social commentary, it was meant to be a guide to when the story was likely written. But I guess everything's political now. :-P – DavidW Dec 24 '19 at 12:44
  • Ok, that makes more sense! – forest Dec 25 '19 at 4:25
45

This is The Coffin Cure by Alan E. Nourse, available to read online here.

After curing the common cold, the hero (Dr. Coffin) discovers that the world is a filthy stinksome place.

"But what's happened?" Coffin cried. "These foul smells, everywhere. You, Phillip, you had a cigarette this morning. I can smell it clear over here, and it's bringing tears to my eyes. And if I didn't know better I'd swear neither of you had had a bath in a week. Every odor in town has suddenly turned foul—"

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    Nice; fast and correct. The story is available at Project Gutenberg; I probably read it in Nourse's anthology Tiger by the Tail.... – DavidW Dec 23 '19 at 22:25
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    I'm a bit confused. Did the scientist have a permanent cold or did the "cure" also enhance his sense of smell? – Parrotmaster Dec 24 '19 at 9:42
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    @Parrotmaster - The implication is that we're all suffering from a low-level cold all the time, which is (unbeknownst to the scientists) actually beneficial to the human race – Valorum Dec 24 '19 at 10:05
  • It sounds like what he really found a cure for was just stuffed noses. – Barmar Dec 26 '19 at 7:02

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