Orson Scott Card baptized me into science fiction. Ender’s Game was the initial sacrament, but Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, and Children of the Mind were my confirmation course — my affirmation of faith. Those alien worlds dwelling in the pages were fascinating for me, and I imagined myself walking through them and exploring their depths. In time, I wrote my own stories. I loved the exoticism, the novelty, the future of travel among the stars. But most of all, I loved the freedom. The ability to explore any world I desired with the simple act of turning a page…
Because today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups… So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because, unceasingly, we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing.” – Philip K. Dick
It’s been years since I got into sci-fi, nearly decades. I travel regularly, and have explored so many fantastic places. Sometimes I think of the heroes of those stories: Ender Wiggin, Elwin Ransom, Luke Skywalker, Fedmahn Kassad… I think of them, and I wonder.
Did they ever have to get a travel visa?
Maybe I’m being naive. Maybe I’m being ungrateful. But I think it’s ridiculous that in 2016, we have to go through lengthy visa application processes, submit to the whims of border guards, and do other exercises of compliance before we’re then able to cross a line in the dirt.
Why does it matter that I was born in America?
Does that make me any more or less qualified to cross the border than someone of another nationality?
Why can I stay 90 days, but they only get 14? Why do I have to be a part of a tour to visit?
Why is this the status quo?
As much as we like to tout humanity as illuminated, we still establish our territories in the same way dogs do when they piss on trees.
Who are they to tell us we cannot cross an imaginary line in the sand?
I’m thankful I get to travel as much as I do. I’m thankful for the things I’ve seen. But I don’t think it’s ridiculous to dream of a world where nationality doesn’t matter, or perhaps even dream of one where nationalities no longer exist.
I want to be able to walk from my home in Washington over the Canadian border and not be arrested. I want to be able to ford the river between Tajikistan and Afghanistan and not be accused of wrong-doing. I want to meet someone from another place and be judged by my deeds instead of my nationality, or the reputation and policies of my government.
Is that too much to ask?
And yet, I’m a hypocrite as I write this, and a coward as well.
I have a passport bearing the seal of the United States of America. As much as I want to make a statement, as much as I want to make an attempt to change the status quo… I’ll keep that document. Because, by ripping it to pieces and trying to carry on traveling, I could lose the ability to do what I love. I could be barred from passing from one country to the next. I could be unable to return home to the family and friends I love.
So I’ll keep it. Because a diminished version of a dream is still something worth having, isn’t it?
At least I have my science fiction. I can still visit any world I desire by picking up a book and turning a page. And I can still write stories, making my own new realities.
And, let’s be honest, I can still travel. But wouldn’t it be nice if the future of travel enabled us to wander unfettered?
What’s your dream for the future of travel? Do you think it’ll ever happen? Let me know in the comments below!