As I was walking through the muggy streets to work this morning, it was a little hard to breathe—it was threatening to rain but hadn’t quite gotten there yet. And that got me thinking about my asthma, and for some reason time travel along with it. Health/medical issues/immunity differences between time periods is a subject (are subjects?) that’s been talked about a lot in adult SF, but I haven’t really seen it addressed as much in science fiction for children and YA: Method of time travel aside, what would happen to someone who is extremely, say, allergic or asthmatic or something who had to travel in time? Sure, we generally want our heroes to be in good health so, y’know, they don’t die before the end of the book (and I’d truly worry that an asthmatic who doesn’t have access to modern medicine in the middle of a bad attack would end up dead or at least an invalid in most historic times—or would they? would certain cultures have treatments that would help?).
But could it be done? Could someone who had a condition that’s considered relatively minor and/or chronic today be the hero of a time-travel story? How would that be done in a way in which the condition presents challenges alongside the challenges of whatever the plot/mystery is—challenge them even to the point where there is a danger of dying, yet not actually die?
What say you, writers? Anyone ever do this story? Has anyone ever done it, that you can recall? I can’t think of any published time-travel books in which the main character has a medical condition that would present a danger in a historic time period. Can you?