I have puzzled over the years as to why I am particularly fond of science fiction. I know those who will not even watch a movie unless it pertains to something in real life, or better yet, if it’s a true story.
I try to avoid true stories most of the time. In fact, at the end of a hard day/week/life, I feel that nothing refreshes me more than getting away from real life and their stories.
Why is this? I have wondered if something were wrong with me. A piece of broken humanity not yet fixed after the fall. But there is more to it than that. I believe the reason I go to science fiction is because somewhere in that broken growing up, I lost the ability to wonder.
Scratch that. I didn’t lose it, but it was systematically torn from me. Let me explain. When I was young, anything was possible. We had recently just been to the moon, and other planets were talked about for future missions. Who knew what we might find out there, and we were just getting warmed up. The space race was in full swing.
On TV, at least according to the older shows I used to watch, it seemed if you wanted a new creature, all you had to do was drop an animal in a vat of nuclear ooze for a brief time and voila, you have a new mutation. Whether monster or superhero, either would be great because it meant that the world was not a boring place and there were infinite possibilities still before us.
Even on our own planet there were whole people groups on other continents that had never been reached, patches of land never explored.
Then came the reality check.
All space exploration came to a grinding halt soon after the moon shot. It was just too expensive and did not help with our stockpiling of nuclear weapons. Nuclear radiation doesn’t create new species, it just kills. And, sorry, but now we’ve already been everywhere and seen almost everything on this crust of a world we inhabit.
No more monsters to be found, no more incredible vistas to be viewed. This is what we’ve got, and that’s it.
And for me, that is a problem, because I still want to see what no one has ever seen, I want to go where no man has ever gone before. And that leaves me few choices. I cannot, as Homer once did, imagine strange creatures living continents away, not because I knew they were there, but because no one could tell me that they weren’t. I now know they don’t exist. I can google it in two minutes. And if I wrote a book about such things as fact, a critic would be happy to correct me on the matter.
And so I explore imagined worlds, with civilizations beyond our own and creatures that both thrill and fascinate. I create what even those writers have yet to make up, because there is something satisfying in creating a world yourself, because you truly are the first explorer in that world. You found it, and now you can travel through every fossil laden valley, and examine the remains of alien civilizations learning how they lived and where they went so that you may follow them and maybe ask questions of their existence.
And since I will not live another four hundred-fifty years into the future, I can fashion such a world myself, where I will smell the depleted atmosphere of a world fallen into disrepair as we prepare to leave for a new planet, a new start. I will make that first jump to lightspeed and see what really happens when I press the red button.
And I will not lose that sense of awe. That sense of wonder. That sense of amazing.
I know that God is that big, yet I keep getting the sense that as our world is shrinking, I get less wonder out of it. Sill, I suspect heaven will have no such let down, so my issue is a temporary one. God being infinite in every way, and wonderful beyond finding out.