Sizzle And Steak
"What made 2001 work was the incongruity of advanced technological beings living on a tropical island with no tech at all, because that made no sense. The problem for us was, at some point you had to make it make sense, and once you did, you had to go high tech and the incongruity was lost. What you are saying completely makes sense -- I simply don't see a way around it beyond simply never explaining anything. And I wonder how many years BZP would have tolerated that before they started to think we didn't know how the Toa and Matoran got there.
I have probably brought this up before, but it comes back to Stephen King's 12-foot cockroach theory. King says you can write an entire story about something scratching at a door, and terrify your reader as they imagine what it might be. Once you open the door and reveal it's a 12-foot cockroach, everybody screams ... and then ten seconds later, they're saying, "Well, at least it's not a 20-foot cockroach." Once you open the door, you inevitably lose the audience's sense of wonder. But you HAVE to do it or the story is a cheat. Even films where they purposely leave ambiguity -- was it a ghost or was the woman just crazy? -- leave a lot of unsatisfied viewers because people expect the story to explain itself. This is why King's endings are uniformly lousy, because he knows it really doesn't matter what's behind the door, it will never be as scary as what the reader imagined. To put it another way, there's sizzle and there's steak -- the sizzle will hook the reader (see 2001), but at some point, you have to produce the steak (2004 and onward) or you have no story ... you just have a story hook."