Dystopia in the Body

I grew up watching Star Trek, The Original Series. I would stay up until midnight to watch it in the darkness of my bedroom when everyone else was asleep. In many ways it greatly influenced my writing, demonstrating to me the power of science fiction. One of the things I found fascinating was their interpretation of the future of medicine. Medical care was done by rectangular gadgets that made buzzing noises or beeped and had readouts (which we couldn’t see), but revealed to Dr. McCoy exactly what was happening in the body of the patient. Cures came in the form of hypos that shot medicine through the skin without the need of a piercing needle. There were rare instances of surgery, and that was just as clean, antiseptic and invisible. There was no blood, and extraordinary things could occur, such as reattaching Spock’s brain. Years later, when I was writing a dystopian science fiction play, I revisited these forms of “hands off” and “antiseptic” medical procedures and took them to, what I felt, were their logical conclusions. In my play, medicine of the future would be dominated by technology, to the extent that medics (individuals who functioned as a hospital, ambulance and doctor all in one) had no authority to touch a patient. The machines were the only allowable, legal contact. This technologically miraculous medicine would be available only to the upper classes. With the rise of advanced technology came with it a rise in cost: these nearly-guaranteed cures would be expensive and not affordable to everyone. Those who lived “Uptown” were the rich and could afford medical technology. Those “Downtown” had to resort to traditional medicine. And what was traditional? Surgery with scalpels and circular saws, injections, psychotherapy, meditation, herbs, teas, and mercury and arsenic to cure syphilis. It… read more →