On Saturday, NASA launched a super-size rover to Mars. This mobile nuclear-powered laboratory will search for evidence of life on the Red Planet in the past and whether it's conducive to life now. Wow. A giant step into space beyond our own planet and its moon. As I've mentioned in previous posts, I'm wild about space exploration.
While that rover tries to discover if there was once microbial life on Mars, don't you wonder what else is "out there"? What about intelligent beings? Why not? Aren't we rather arrogant to think we're the only creatures capable of thought in this vast universe? To paraphrase a line from the movie Contact, wouldn't that be an awful waste of space?
Like Jessie, the heroine in Switched, I do not like creepy aliens. In my imagination, they could look like us. Okay, some have to be different if only for variety. What they look like and the science involved in interstellar transportation take second place in my stories to the adventure. I love a good adventure. Yes, we can have adventures in the here and now and I write them, too. But, it's so much fun to think about adventure in space. Call it escapism, if you will. Who doesn't need an escape—from dirty dishes, weeds in the flowerbeds, a nasty coworker, homework, loss of a job (or the fear of losing one), a dying relative. I can let my imagination run wild as I did in Switched and continue with the adventures in Switched, Too.
Creating a world that is different from our own yet similar enough for the reader to relate to is a challenge. A fun challenge. Gene Roddenberry, when pitching the concept of his TV series Star Trek, referred to it as "wagon train to the stars". At the time, the most popular TV programs were Westerns so that should have been an analogy the network producers could relate to. I like the concept of space being a new frontier. Like the explorers of long ago, we can set off into the unknown—if only in our imagination. Like those old Westerns, good always triumphs over evil. How escapist is that?
But, isn't that what we have to believe in? That good will triumph? That the bad guys will "get what's coming to them"? It would be very depressing otherwise. There's enough to be depressed about in real life. So, let's set off for the stars. We don't know where we're going, we don't know what we'll find when we get there, we don't know who or what we'll encounter along the way. All we know is that an adventure awaits.