Guest Blogger: Eilis Flynn
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There was a time – not so long ago in the scheme of things – that being near-sighted spelled doom for you. If you couldn’t see far enough, clearly enough, you couldn’t track and hunt the game that could keep you and yours alive for another week. But as time went on and circumstances changed, being near-sighted didn’t automatically mean that you’d starve to death. Being near-sighted meant that you’d do work like sewing, or make clocks, something that perfect eyesight wasn’t necessary for.
These days, of course, being near-sighted means you slip tiny plastic discs to sit on the surface of your eye, or perch larger plastic disks on your nose, or even have a doctor use a high-tech device that corrects the shape of your eye so your sight is pretty near perfect. You could even go hunting, but you don’t need to do it. It’s amazing how things have changed, isn’t it?
Futuristic fiction reminds us of how far we’ve come, of course, while reminding us how far we have to go. The character Jean-Luc Picard of Star Trek: The Next Generation was established to have had an accident as a young man, forcing him to replace his injured heart with an artificial one. This being set in the far-flung future, it didn’t seem to affect him at all. (I think there was an episode or two in which he had to go get a heart tune-up, but that was it.) The heart that runs his body may not be a “real” one, but it works just as well.
With that in mind, you’ve got to wonder about the diseases and the challenges they present for us. Diseases don’t have to knock us down; they never have. They’ve simply presented a situation that we have to work around, and the characters we create, hero and heroine alike, who do so can warm our hearts and remain in our imaginations forever.
Being near-sighted is one thing, having a nonfunctioning heart quite another. Then there are those things in between. In futuristics, for the most part, glasses and contact lenses are a thing of the past: artificial eyes are a common thing – think of TV’s Six-Million-Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman, his female counterpart, with artificial eyes, hearing, and limbs.
In historicals and fantasies (nonurban variety), the diseases and challenges, the things that can be more or less managed, are more familiar. With fantasies in particular, artificial limbs, eyes, and so forth don’t seem to show that often, giving the overall impression that if you’re in a fantasy, it’s okay to limp. And as far as I’ve been able to figure out, knee and hip replacements are nowhere to be seen. No, in fantasies in particular, death seems to be an easier thing to overcome than a bum knee. For that matter, think of chronic diseases, like diabetes. They don’t appear that often, and why not? It’s one of those mysteries, I tell you.
A long way from simple near-sightedness as a death knell!
Eilis Flynn wonders about these things. Her latest book, ECHOES OF PASSION, is available as a download from Cerridwen Press, Amazon, bn.com, and more. Visit her at www.eilisflynn.com.