This week: Vaccines and Health in FantasyEdited by: Dawn Embers
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Fantasy Newsletter by Dawn
A glance at healthcare factors in fantasy and science fiction stories with a particular nod towards immunization and alternative options.
It's a hot topic in the world these days and in particular in my field since I work in retail pharmacy: vaccines. With the buzz around corona virus vaccines and more locations gaining the ability to give them while more people will have the option in the future, it's a hard topic to ignore. And it's something that we can bring into our fictional worlds as well, since we might as well gain something out of the crazy experiences of our current state of being. When creating a story that is speculative fiction, one element of the world that can be considered in different levels of focus is that of the healthcare system and general health of the characters.
Don't worry. You don't need to be a medical expert or spend years doing research in order to include these elements. Granted, you can do some searching and finding information along the way may be of great help. But it can be minimal depending on how much you want to put into your world.
Disease and Healthcare
What kinds of diseases and health issues exist in your world? If it's something central to the plot or a complication one of the main characters face, it will be a bigger concern for the writer. It could just be an issue on the side, in which case there can be mention but details isn't as necessary. While we like to think of the characters as invincible while simultaneously putting them through the wringer, sometimes we forget more common things that may come up during the time of the tale, like a stall from a common cold.
Aside from the actual conditions, you may want to consider who is involved in healthcare for your world. If it's a more sci-fi similar to our world based type of story, you'll probably have doctors and other people similar to what we experience. However, if you're working in an alternative, fantasy world then you might not have those exact roles. Maybe someone uses magic to cure ailments? There are the medieval options of the past commonly used in fantasy too including potions and tinctures. While you can have options available, you then have to way who want to use them and who might be against them. Maybe potions are considered evil by a particular sections of the public who refuse that sore of aid no matter what ailments they experience.
Basically, you have options and part of the fun with world building can be in playing with them. Options in medication, options in titles for those who work in fields focused on healthcare and also who believes in what is the best method to obtain good health. There are can similarities to our own worldly ways or you can go drastically different. It's all in how you develop the world and where you input the information within a story along with which character is involved.
Belief and dis-belief in medical options can also be a development of character and entire populations along with just an overview of how the world is developed. Also there is the scope of effect for any given condition. Is it limited to a particular section of the population? What about different countries or nations? Is economic affluence a factor? Many questions and topics to consider, assuming you actually put thought into world building instead of just writing by the seat of your pants (like me and probably a few others on here). Anyways, for those that actually take time into planning ahead, considering some of these questions and options in regards to health for the characters will be a useful element and one readers may find relation in whether it's a comforting one or not.
Some questions to consider:
What happens to someone who has magic abilities when they get sick?
Does it diminish their abilities? Are there adverse effects or do things happen that they don't want?
Is there a prominent disease that is concerning to the public?
Is there a cure?
How does this affect your main character and their story?
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How do you approach disease and the medical world within your spec-fic stories?
"Everybody who's a physician, who makes vaccines, who wants to find the cure for cancer. Everybody who wants to do any medical good for humankind got the passion for that before he or she was 10." - Bill Nye
"If we stop exploring space, we're going to lose the same part of us that found vaccines and penicillin, the part that searches for cures to cancer and AIDS." - Corbin Bertsen
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