Monday, September 02, 2013

Lost Lands

One of the most intriguing ideas in science fiction is that of the Lost Land, an area stuck in time and hinted at but undiscovered until the time of the story.

Over here I noted that it's possible to write stories with tropes that have been 'overdone' as long as the author has a little imagination. Well, actually, a LOT of imagination. The comments on the article I pointed to there had an interesting negative aspect. One poster thought it 'impossible' that there could still be Lost Lands in this day and age because of satellites and technology.

He noted that Atlantis hasn't been found yet.

Well, that's true. It hasn't been found yet. But that doesn't meant that it doesn't exist or never existed. The world is plenty strange the more we get to know it, don't you think? And the more that man affects the environments and natural orders of things by our continually expanding cities the less likely it seems that there are such things as the Savage Land or Skartaris or any of a number of other Lost Lands.

But that's really just arrogance. I know for a fact that we don't know everything about everything. Hell, we don't know everything about anything. If an author can't imagine something new that's a failing of the author. If readers aren't willing to go along with an author's imagination, that's something that should require an author to try harder.

Every story has to be believable in some aspect. When authors can no longer engender the 'wow' factors in their stories, when they can no longer awe the readers, what's next?

A failure of imagination should be as worrisome as any other mental condition. If we cannot see possibilities, we're doomed. If the audience can only believe what's 'obvious' to them, if they are unwilling to explore possibilities, where does that leave storytellers?

Maybe this explains the failure of films like Pacific Rim to catch fire. An original story that wasn't based on any previous property didn't have a built-in audience and didn't do as well as hoped. I'm sure you can list a dozen other original stories that have the same problem. As far as our genre of science fiction goes, what was the last original property to do well? I'm guessing Star Wars in 1977, but I may be wrong - I'm too lazy to do the research today. Every other SF story that's come since that's been successful is based on a previous version, right?

I propose that there needs to be a movement of some kind that will rekindle the collective imagination of the fiction-consuming audience. There needs to be something that says it's okay to believe in the impossible, the incredible, the fantastic and amazing. There needs to be a way to say it's okay to question what's possible.

Let's not place too much faith that technology will eventually reveal everything. A little mystery is good for us. Wondering what's out there in the dark, being curious about that sound or smell, searching for that new insight that will change how we think is the best thing in the world. Humans are built to wonder, but we're letting it be beaten out of us. It's possible that humans are TOO rooted in the 'real world' and cannot see anything beyond the end of our nose.

Crazy ideas are crazy ideas until they're proven to be true. That doesn't mean science and physical evidence should be manipulated to prove a crazy idea, it shouldn't. Evidence is truth and we need to take truth as such. But being able to question that truth is how we'll begin to figure out the things we don't know.

Which is a lot.

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