Once upon a time, just about anyone could be an explorer. Little more than a hundred years ago, there were still places on this Earth which had not been reached, or had been reached by very few. In those days, just about any man or woman could set out to trek off into unknown territories. True, major expeditions were funded by governments or business interests, as they are today, but the average person could still sign up with such groups or with a minimum of money set out on their own.
Today that is not the case. Most of the reachable Earth has been explored, or found not worth further exploration. The stars still beckon as do the deepest depths of our oceans, but major funds for technology are needed to reach those uncharted regions.
The average person has little chance, little hope, of searching for the unknown, let alone finding it.
Except in fiction writing.
I’m not necessarily talking about professional novelists or short story writers here, but about anyone who can pick up a pen or type away at a keyboard and put together a basic sentence. I’m not talking about fiction writing as a business, nor really as a hobby, but as a way to stretch our boundaries, to look outside ourselves or deeper within ourselves, to even create worlds that never existed and could never exist.
Other forms of potentially exploratory writing do not allow for this in our age. Since the Enlightenment, philosophy has become so pedantic as to have virtually no basis in reality. Most religious writings have become political or agenda driven, and much of scientific literature is little better.
Only fiction allows for true exploration.
Some might limit such exploration to matters of the psyche or the soul, but fiction’s boundaries are unfathomable, as is the reach of the imagination. Anything that can be imagined can be put down in ink or upon a digital screen. If new lands are needed for exploring, fiction can create them. If new boundaries of the mind need pushing, fiction can be there to do so. If new studies of religion need to be considered without outside influences forcing their frameworks, fiction can reach, can look, can find God, or a lack of, or something else entirely.
Fiction can do anything within the mind.
Yes, it can be cheap and tawdry. It can claw away at our lowest senses, but it can also stretch for the heights of our aspirations. Fiction is only limited by ourselves, by our minds.
There are no more cowboys or mountain men. There is no one to sail the Seven Seas, nor to climb the highest heights. It has all been done. Even astronauts and deep sea explorers are not the common person today, though I mean that in no way to belittle them.
For the common person, we are stuck in our world day today. There is no escape, temporary or permanent. There are no new lands to venture off to if we should wish to escape the impressions of our native countries. There are no new continents to be found, no new tribes to discover, and buried treasures are few and far between.
Except in our minds. Except in fiction. Where we can steer a craft down the Congo, or walk on the moon, or float off to Narnia.
Write it. Read it. Enjoy it. It’s the real world that is but illusion.
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A former newspaper editor for two decades in Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky, Ty now earns his lunch money as a fiction writer, mostly in the fantasy and horror genres. In his free time he enjoys tabletop and video gaming, long swording, target shooting, reading, beer tasting and recalling fond memories of his late wife and their beagle baby, Lily. Find City of Rogues and other books and e-books by Ty Johnston at Amazon.