Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Where No Man Has Gone Before

I've missed blogging for a while due to a family emergency, but I had to jump in on last week's topic, New Worlds. Just the look of the words on the page gives me a thrilling shiver as I think about all the tales of adventure I devoured when I was a kid. My favourites were Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan, and the John Carter of Mars series. Discovering new worlds and civilisations seemed like the only logical thing to do when you grew up.

As I got older and realised that everything had already been discovered (or even worse, there was a package tour available to even the most inaccessible locations on Earth, so not much chance of danger there!) reality hit home. There weren't going to be any exciting adventures of discovery in my life. It Had All Been Done. Those seeking to make break now ground nowadays are trying to do be the fastest, circumnavigating the world in 4 days or some such. The thrilling uncertainty of the voyages of Captain Cook (Australia), Christopher Columbus (America) or the mutinous crew of the Bounty (who ended up in Pitcairn Island in the middle of the South Pacific) aren't likely to happen today, when satellite signal can trace you even if your boat has capsized in the middle of the ocean. A 'copter ride later and you're at home sipping Cup-A-Soup. OK I'm exaggerating slightly, but you get the picture.

Being a writer, however, means you get to explore all the strange new worlds you want, and sometimes its better than the real thing. Your imagination as the last, vast unchartered territory. Here I get to be a pirate, a scout, a mercenary, an envoy, and have any number of adventures limited only by what I dare to dream.

In my last published story, the futuristic romance called 'A Touch of Magic', my heroine was the colonization scout for a new planet, Samhain. The guidelines for the submission said the story had to be about 'Samhain' - whatever that meant to you. My mind immediately conjured up a planet, dark and mysterious, and steeped in magic. I knew nothing else about it. It was my heroine's job to explore. And find true love, of course!

To me, this is the beauty of science fiction and futuristics - you take our modern-day perspective and transplant it to a new world. It is one of the (many) ways it differs from fantasy, where the characters are living in a world already familiar to them though strange to us. In science fiction we're making discoveries all the time - new worlds, new civilizations, new perspectives, new science. And what could be cooler than that?

1 comment:

Bernadette Gardner and Jennifer Colgan said...

I loved ERB's Mars series. I was fascinated with his ability to create such a rich world and populate it with so many interesting creatures. One of the reasons I wanted to be a writer, so I could create my own worlds like that.