In my dystopian fiction novel Our Dried Voices, I imagine a future world in which humans have cured all diseases and live in a utopian society free from worries about cancer, infection and other ailments. It seems like the makings of an ideal world, but things are not as perfect as they seem.
In this article published on the website Fantasy Literature, I take a deeper look at a world with no diseases. What do history, science and human nature tell us about the effects of illness on humanity as a whole? And would we really be better off without this apparent scourge?
In short, the cost of human disease is not as one-sided as it may seem. However, I in no way mean to make light of the terrible suffering of those human beings who have faced the worst ravages of disease. Individual lives have value, and no human deserves to suffer and die. Yet instead of viewing human disease as a burden that warrants single-minded eradication, I want to recognize the tension between individual pain and potential collective benefit which lies at the heart of this issue. Simply put, I am not convinced that human history demonstrates the world would be better off without disease.