When capturing the human spirit in literature, always remember the struggle we face as a species to explore the unknown and the importance of the past in showing what is truly at stake if we fail. To allow ourselves to stop in this pursuit is to allow our spirit to die and deny the millions of pioneers who paved the road with only one goal: discovering that which we do not know.
In his post “Deny your past and you deny the struggle and achievements of your ancestors”, B.J. Murphy, of The Proactionary Transhumanist, shows us an inspiring script excerpt from Star Trek: Voyager that explores our identity as a species. This identity is essential to our continued evolution as a species, and it is built from “the struggle and achievements of [our] ancestors,” as Chakotay, the first officer of the USS Voyager, said during a trial that attempted to crush a pioneering scientists theories.
History is formed from the efforts of these visionaries to not just advance our knowledge, but to expand it into areas we did not know existed. In science fiction literature, it is especially effective to have this struggle as a main part of the conflict because nothing is closer to our core than the quest for knowledge and answers, and nothing more dangerous than failing. One of my favorite authors, while definitely old school, is Asimov for this exact reason. In every single one of his thousands of short stories and dozens of novels, the plot’s main drive is the pursuit of the forbidden or unknown and often times the true opposition is not the person or civilization threatening their existence but those that try to stop them out of fear or ignorance.
When you are creating a conflict always remember that, while there may be physical danger to the world or to individual characters, the true danger is in failing to explore the unknown and the true opposition is the ignorance and fear of others. What are some examples you know of that use this ideal as a center for the story or as a push? Some of my favorites are End of Eternity, Flowers for Algernon, and the Foundation series, but I guess i’m a bit old school and not very up to date so please give your own!