Disease at World’s End
I am enamored by the effects of illness and injury in future narratives. I think it is a very widely addressed and serious concern, no matter which way it is approached. In most future narratives illness or injury leads to the removal of that character.
In novels such as The Giver by Lois Lowry where the community has been “perfected” it is discovered that smaller, weaker infants are “released” along with the old. Illness is unheard of and injuries just don’t seem to happen. The truth is eventually revealed to Jonas that being released is really being put to death and pain is a very real and excruciating thing. So, while the community is living pain free, they are also missing out on personal connections, feelings and love. Jonas and The Giver have ultimately decided that the pain is worth the pleasure.
On the other hand, in stories like Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, illness or injury can be a death sentence or a target for becoming a victim. Survival depends on appearing to be strong, healthy and poor. Broken limbs, bleeding or obvious illness make you a weak victim for someone else looking to survive with whatever you have. Some will even take your life just for their own enjoyment.
In another apocalyptic narrative, The Walking Dead, illness begins the whole apocalypse. A virus causes humans to die except for a part of their brain that allows them to walk around and eat and infect other humans. Avoiding the spread of the virus is an important part of survival, but becoming injured also causes struggles of survival as it is difficult to run or fight off zombies with a limp or an un-useable arm.
· Butler, Octavia E. (, ©1993) Parable of the Sower. New York : Warner Books