One of the things I don't see in modern fantasy or sci-fi is exploration for its own sake. There's no modern Journey to the Center of the Earth, no Swiss Family Robinson, no Gulliver's Travels... were those all just a product of colonial fervor? Is it that we've mapped out everything too well, that there are no more winged men and dragons and cities of white apes over the next hill? I've been getting into Lovecraft for a while, and in one story he describes two-century old houses in the middle of rural America where 'dwelt generations of strange people, whose like the world has never seen.' In another, there's an entire abandoned and mysterious section of New York. What struck me was just how hard it was to suspend disbelief, how alien in mentality it was to a time when one can see every street in the world upon the instant. I say the Age of Exploration spiritually ended with satellite television. As for Star Trek - it was always more about revisiting periods of Earth's history through the eyes of aliens (as well as flings with exotic women, and other sorts of pulp nonsense), but it was the last great work of fiction that even pretended to be about exploration. "Now technology will let us sail off into the stars," it said, "and the colonial tradition will live on up there, but without all the racism and religion." Blah. I want to bring the spirit of exoticism and discovery back in my own fiction. I don't know if I'm capable of it, but there's one tactic that seems to work well: radically turning the scale up or down on a single aspect of setting. If you think about it, there's no better way to amaze people who are more familiar with cosmic background radiation than their own neighborhoods. You apply the astronomical/molecular scales that they're familiar with to things that aren't normally associated with such. Imagine a fantasy world light-years across. It could be 99% devoid of life, with the remainder 99% percent devoid of intelligent species, with that remainder 99% devoid of civilization, and it would still contain more cities than the entire Star Wars galaxy. Going small is just as interesting. Try a full-scale class revolution inside a perpetually running train. Or you could use outdated cosmologies, like Bronze Age people building a tower to heaven. Thoughts? Ideas? Other examples?