When it comes to telling big, epic, awesome, mythopoetic stories, our world is boring. It is boring because it is known. We can google any spot on the planet and get a complete breakdown of that place’s ecology, politics, history, industries, and turn-by-turn directions on how to get there. Not only that, most of us feel like we kind of know where the future is headed. A.I., rockets to space, self-driving cars, and replicators no longer seem a matter of chance, merely a matter of time. Wait around long enough and the future we’ve all imagined will get here. The now cliché “Where’s my jetpack” is said with the foot-tapping frustration of culture that believes technological progress is not merely inevitable but, in a way, owed. Not only is the future known territory, getting there feels more like a commute than a journey.
Yet a huge amount of what we love about story-telling, particularly the big “stand the test of time” style stories is a sense of wonder. So how do we inject wonder into our world?
Three major strains of narrative – sci-fi, fantasy, and mythology – are all about wonder. Whether it’s Star Trek, Game of Thrones, or the Aeneid, we as readers are drawn in to unbelievable locales, spectacular individuals, and encounter unexpected forces. Yet all of these stories also often feel disconnected from our world. The voyages of the starship Enterprise take place almost entirely off Earth. Game of Thrones exists in an alternate, slightly magical version of Europe and the Aeneid from so far in the past we hardly recognize it.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.