Going to Mars, Word by Word: Bradbury and Unintended Consequences

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury is not a story in the traditional sense. In Bradbury’s own words, it is a series of “Martian penseés, Shakespearean ‘asides,’ wondering thoughts, night visions, predawn half-dreams.” So hop aboard for a lyrical ride with Bradbury and Unintended Consequences.

Bradbury and unintended consequences, mage of Martian in his Machine, from Martian Chronicles, lynettemburrows.com

Bradbury scribbled a dozen different tales of Mars and its folk before 1947, then filed them in a drawer. The tales might have languished there except for an editor at Doubleday. The editor suggested Bradbury had woven an unseen tapestry of Mars. Bradbury wrote an outline stitching his earlier writing together with new tales. The collection was published as Bradbury’s second book in 1950.

If you are the type of reader who needs to have a primary character to follow from one action to another, this may not be the book for you. But if you can ride the words, you’ll soar through the “Rocket Summer,” walk through a house of crystal pillars, hear ancient voices sing, and feel the Martian winds. You’ll take a ride like none other.

WHAT IT’S ABOUT 

It’s difficult to write a summary that does Bradbury’s words justice. The penseé, or chapters, range from a single page expressing a vision, an emotion, or tone to true stories that are many pages long. It’s like an annotated timeline of the history of Mars. Each annotation represents a different slice of time.

Throughout, there is a visceral understanding of the loneliness of a new frontier and the passing of a dying culture. You sympathize with many of the characters who cherish and pursue a dream, usually a variation of the “American Dream.” But, because man brings his darkest fears and brightest hopes with him to Mars, there is a price, some unintended consequence, to be paid.

Not even the Martians are immune to this. In “February 2030: Ylla” we observe Mr. and Mrs. K, true Martians, once happy but not happy now. Mrs. K is haunted by dreams of a man from the sky and hums a foreign tune. She feels compelled to wait for an event to happen, for the man from the sky. Mr. K finds her obsession with this dream very unsettling. So he attempts to distract her, to take her away. When that doesn’t work, he tricks her into staying in the house on the very day she senses that the man from the sky will arrive. And though he doesn’t quite believe, Mr. K arms himself and goes hunting. When two shots ring out, though neither we nor Mrs. K witnesses it, we are convinced he has killed the astronaut and we mourn with Mrs. K.

There are many memorable scenes and characters:

Benjamin Driscoll, in “December 2032: The Green Morning,” arrives on Mars barely able to breathe its thin air. He refuses to be sent home. Instead, he creates more oxygen by planting trees and grass, becoming a “Johnny Appleseed” of sorts. While planting trees, he becomes aware that his chest and lungs are adapting to the Martian atmosphere. And the reader wonders if he will pay an unintended consequence.

In “August 2033: Night Meeting” Tomás Gomez meets a Martian he cannot touch in the “hills between time” and learns not to ask what is future and what is past.

The owner of the food stand at the crossroads misunderstands what the Martian in his machine is trying to tell him. And when he makes a decision based on that misperception, he pays the price.

While some of the characters in the book are genuinely trying to do the right thing, others are out for vengeance. Everyone is powerful. As a whole, the book evokes a hauntingly mournful, yet hopeful, feeling that stuck with me long after I finished reading.

How the Red Planet Is Portrayed

Don’t expect detailed description in the Martian Chronicles. The planet is hot and dry and mostly barren. Houses of crystal pillars, fossil seas, canals, and distant mountains are usually unimportant except as props. The emotional resonance is what matters in this book. And Mr. Bradbury delivers plenty in that area. You feel how ancient Mars is, how time is different there, and how silently the planet waits. You understand that man will renew Mars . . . for a time. You also understand man’s time on Mars is just a piece of the planet’s history, that it will wait, silently, for all time.

About Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury (August 1920 – June 2012) ended his formal education when he graduated from high school. He began selling newspapers by day and writing at night. During almost seventy years of writing, he had more than five hundred works published. But he didn’t just write novels, short stories, and essays, he produced an animated film, wrote plays and screenplays, was a creative consultant for the 1964 New York World’s Fair, and created interior metaphors for the Spaceship Earth display at Epcot Center, Disney. Other iconic titles by Ray Bradbury include The Illustrated Man, Fahrenheit 451, and Something Wicked This Way Comes. You can find a complete list of his books here.

Bradbury’s accomplishments, publications, and awards are too numerous to include in the blog. Please go to his website at raybradbury.com or read Sam Weller’s authorized biography, The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury, to learn more about him.

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Whew! That was some trip! I hope that if you haven’t read The Martian Chronicles, you’ll give it a try.

 

Have you read the Martian Chronicles? What did you think? If you haven’t read the Chronicles, I’d love to hear about what book you’ve read that affected you long after you finished.

 

Going to Mars Word by Word: C.S. Lewis style

Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis is the third in my Going to Mars Word by Word series. It offers a fascinating view of Mars. So hop on board and enjoy the ride C.S. Lewis style.

The C.S .Lewis style, original illustration of the hross from Out of a Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis, lynettemburrows.com

The Book

C.S. Lewis first published this book in Britain in 1938 and in 1943, in the United States, this novel shows its age in some of the now out-dated language, writing style, and societal views. Its pacing is not like the action-packed novels of today, but if you persevere, the meat of the story yields imaginative delights and insights.

In this first book of C.S. Lewis’s Space Trilogy (also known as the Cosmic Trilogy), the protagonist, Dr. Elwin Ransom, a professor of philology, is on a hiking trip in the English Midlands. Looking for lodging, Ransom arrives at the home of a Mr. Devine, whom Ransom realizes is a former schoolfellow whom he “cordially disliked.” His arrival interrupts Mr. Devine and friend, Mr. Weston, as they struggle to force a mentally handicapped young man into the wash house. Grudgingly, Weston agrees to release the young man and share a meal and drinks with Ransom. But the after meal whiskey and soda causes Ransom to lose consciousness. When he awakens, he slowly realizes that he’s in a spherical spaceship, a captive of Devine and Weston who plan to turn him over to the inhabitants of Malacandra as a sacrifice in exchange for gold.

As the story progresses Ransom escapes from Devine and Weston and he begins an exploration of the planet Mars, called Malacandra by its inhabitants. Ransom’s terror is eventually replaced by a sense of wonder and appreciation for its landscapes and inhabitants.

The Planet

As Lewis describes it, Mars, aka Malacandra, is a delicious blend of color, texture, and size. “His first impression was of a bright, pale world – a watercolor world out of a child’s paint box . . . .” The air was cold and thin, but breathable. The water of the lakes wasn’t blue in certain light, as it was on Earth, but really blue. Stirred by a faint breeze its waves were something like “turreted waves,” impossibly tall and narrow. Rose-colored, cloud-like mass of vegetation in the background looked like “the top of a gigantic red cauliflower.” There was a forest of purple vegetation “about twice the height of English Elms, but apparently soft and supple” with smooth stalks and nearly transparent leaves the size of lifeboats.

The People

The hrossa (singular hross), are the first people of Malacandra that Ransom meets. They are six or seven feet tall and too thin for their height. “It was something like a penguin, something like an otter, something like a seal; the slenderness and flexibility of its body suggested a giant stoat.” Fishermen and farmers, they live in the lowlands. They are the poets, the storytellers of Malacandra. Ransom lives amongst them, learning their language and of the eldil, and the ruler of Malacandra, Oyarsa.

The eldil are almost invisible creatures of light. They are the messengers of Oyarsa and according to the hross, must be obeyed. The hrossa can see eldil and are surprised to discover that Ransom can only see a disturbance in light and hear the eldil whispers. When an eldil tells Ransom that Oyarsa has summoned him, the hross insists he be on his way.

The séroni (singular sorn), whom Ransom grew to fear while on the spaceship, are “spindly and flimsy things twice or three times the height of a man” with pale feathers and seven-fingered hands. They are peaceful and kindly, the scientists of the world. They live in the high country through which Ransom must pass as he travels to meet Oyarsa. It is a Sorn who supplies Ransom with an oxygen bottle and carries the human on his shoulder during the difficult part of Ransom’s journey to Meldilorn, the home of Oyarsa.

In Meldilorn, Ransom meets the third species of Malacandra, the pfifltriggi (singular pfifltrigg). The pfifltrigg’s face was hairless like a man’s, “pointed like a shrew’s, yellow and shabby-looking.” It was “much more insect-like or reptilian” than any other creature Ransom saw on the alien planet. These creatures are the builders, the technicians, miners, and the artists. What a sorn can think up, a pfifltrigg can build.

Finally, Ransom meets Oyarsa. Oyarsa is a being of light, an eldil, but older and wiser. The conversation between these two characters reveals the novel’s theme. There is a retelling of Lucifer’s rejection from heaven, his isolation on Earth (the silent planet), and how Lucifer ‘bent’ man. Ransom speaks for mankind and Oyarsa passes judgment.

I’m not going to reveal the judgment and ending of this novel.   Instead, I hope you’ll read it.

The Author

Clive Staples “Jack” Lewis was a novelist, poet, scholar, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian, and a Christian apologist born in Belfast, Ireland on November 29, 1898. His love of fantasy literature was evident even as a young boy. He created an imaginary world, Boxen, where animals talked and had adventures. He was educated at Oxford where he became friends with another student, J. R.R. Tolkein.

In 1917 Lewis left his studies to fight in World War I. He became a commissioned officer with the Sumerset Light Infantry and fought in France until he was injured in April 1918. After the war, he returned to his studies He became a member of the English faculty of Oxford. It was at Oxford that a group of writers, the Inklings, began weekly meetings. They met for more than thirty years. During their meetings, they would talk, ‘share a beverage,’ and discuss their work. Several of the writers in that group produced work that is well known today. Lewis became an internationally recognized writer and was featured on the cover of Time magazine in September 1947. Read more about Lewis at the C.S. Lewis Foundation and on Wikipedia.

C.S. Lewis Style or Realistic?

I must confess I had a bias against Lewis due to what I view as the heavy-handed Christian metaphors and allegories he used in his writing. I chose this book as a representative of the decade in which it was written and because Lewis, as an author, has an impact on people even today. There are blatant metaphors and allegories in this novel, an expression of Lewis’ belief that much of the suffering on Earth is due to evil choices people make. Yet, there are also delightful and thoughtful passages and fascinating descriptions that create something like an impressionistic-style mental painting of Mars.

C.S. Lewis knew, even when he wrote Out of the Silent Planet, that Mars was not as he described it. Yet, he chose to create a painting in his reader’s mind rather than re-create reality as he knew it. For this reader, it worked.

Next in this series: The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

How about you? Would you go to Mars C.S. Lewis Style? Do you prefer imaginative interpretations of Mars or realistic ones?

Going To Mars: Word By Word – Northwest Smith

This is my second GTMWBW* post.  You can read the first one here. Come along on this trip to Mars via the words of C.L Moore in her Northwest Smith stories.

Illustration of Northwest Smith by Robert Burrows, lynettemburrows.com
by Robert Burrows © 2012

The Northwest Smith stories belong firmly in the pulp era of science fiction and fantasy which began in the 1930s. The term ‘pulp’ came from the paper and format these magazines were published in. They were printed on cheap paper with ragged edges at a total size of approximately seven inches wide by ten-and-a-half inches tall. And they were filled with adventure stories featuring buxom damsels, bug-eyed monsters, and dashing heroes set on other planets that had only minor differences from Earth.

Catherine Louise Moore (January 24, 1911 – April 4, 1987) was a prolific writer probably best known to many SF and fantasy readers for writing stories and novels in collaboration with her husband Henry Kuttner. Moore used her initials because the science fiction market in the 1930’s didn’t have much room for female authors. More also used other pseudonyms both as a solo author and in collaboration with Kutner. Learn more about Catherine here

Moore achieved fame in 1933 with her first story, Shambleau, a vampiric femme fatale story set on Mars. She continued relating the adventure stories of Northwest Smith, the legendary hero of the spaceways, in Black Thirst © 1934; The Tree of Life © 1936, Scarlet Dream © 1934, Dust of the Gods © 1934, Lost Paradise © 1936, Julhi © 1935, The Cold Gray God © 1935, Yvala ©1936, and a very short postscript-type of story Song in a Minor Key ©1957. I read them in the collection Northwest Smith published in 1981.

Not all the stories in this collection are set on Mars. Two were set on Earth and two on Venus. But if the pulp era stories of science fiction and fantasy were supposed to invoke a sense of wonder, I would have to say Moore definitely achieved that.

Despite the 1930’s romanticism and general mentality, I found much to enjoy in these stories. Sf-encyclopedia.com describes Moore’s style as possessing a “lyrical fluency, emotional intensity, and the power to evoke a sense of wonder in the past-haunted interstellar venues.” I have to agree. The language usage is rich and multi-layered. An English teacher would have a field day with the classical references and the themes of Moore’s work. The Shambleau, a Gorgon or Medusa-like being, says dark and light are the same to her. Not so in Moore’s books. Light and dark, white and black, represent good or evil, sometimes in unexpected ways. Even the series protagonist, Northwest Smith, is not all one or the other.

Northwest Smith is a wary man with a past. His ruthless, steel pale eyes stare out of a face scored with marks from a knife, and talon, and ray-burn. An adventurer-for-hire in spacer’s leathers, he is wise in the dangers of the spaceways and travels from adventure to adventure. He kills when necessary and without remorse. And yes, true to pulp story traditions, nearly every adventure has at least one beautiful woman and an evil monster. His sidekick is Yarol, the Venusian, who calls him NW.

The Mars in the Northwest Smith stories is red and dusty. Like Barsoom, there is a low, red vegetation and there are canals. These Martian canals only have water during the spring thaw of the polar caps. Also like the Mars in Burroughs’ tales, this Mars has a long history. Once Mars had been green. Now it’s dry and dotted with thousand-year-old half-collapsed temples and ruins of ancient civilizations.

There is no reference to Martian gravity nor to the atmosphere in these stories. The Mars of the Northwest Smith looks and behaves much like the American southwest. Except for its people.

Instead of two races ala Barsoom, there are innumerable races on Moore’s Mars. There are Martian drylanders, canal Martians, Venusian swamplanders, “and strange, nameless denizens of unnamed planets.” Additionally, there are gods and goddesses, and beings of light and black, unnamed things. Moore’s universe appears to be a crowded place.

The reader follows Northwest from the stalls and stands of the Lakkmanda Markets, the greatest marketplace in the universe, to places where ancient wells are gateways to another dimension, and caves hold secret asteroids. He walks warily through endless hallways, dark caves and underground rooms where he battles soul-sucking monsters. The monsters sometimes have a physical form, sometimes a kind of quasi-physical being appearing man-shaped, and sometimes tendrils of darkness, as insubstantial as fog or light.

So again, it’s not the physical planet that enthralls us in the stories of Northwest Smith. Rather the fascination lies with the adventures, the battles between good and evil, and the fascination with the people who are not, but maybe could be.

Alas, in the real world, the rover Curiosity has not found a Martian. But it found evidence of water, lots of water! Perhaps Burroughs and Moore weren’t so far off after all.image of Mars' water worn rock, lynettemburrows.com

Who knows? Maybe the rover will find evidence of Martians before our next trip to Mars on November 5th via Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis.

*GTMWBW = Going to Mars: Word-by-Word

I am so glad you’ve come along with me on this adventure, Going to Mars: Word by Word. Please, won’t you take a moment to share with me? Have you read any of the Northwest Smith stories? If not, what is your favorite book set on Mars? See my other posts reviewing science fiction books on Mars:

Going to Mars: Word by Word: A Princess of Mars

What do you get when you mix a Civil War hero with barbaric Green Martians, ferocious beasts, and a breathtakingly-beautiful Red Martian Princess? A novel of interplanetary romance and an action-packed adventure called A Princess of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs (ERB). Our first stop on our journey to Mars, Word by Word.

Princess of Mars, Trilogy book cover, lynettemburrows.com

Written in 1911, this story had several working titles: “My First Adventure on Mars,” “The Green Martians,” and “Dejah Thoris, Martian Princess.” Re-titled “Under the Moons of Mars” it was published under the byline Norman Bean as a monthly serial from February to July 1912 in All Story Magazine. Norman, aka ERB, was paid the extravagant sum of $400.

When I sat down to read A Princess of Mars, I made a conscious decision to overlook certain things. Societal views of the roles of men and women were quite different in 1911 from what we think of today. Some word choices that were perfectly acceptable then, have considerably different usage today. To present-day readers, turn-of-the-century writing traditions of asides, addressing the reader, and explicit foreshadowing seem archaic and heavy-handed. ERB, a writer of his time, used all of those traditions. He also used the device that the story was a manuscript written by the hero, Captain John Carter. This made the asides, etc. much less intrusive to me as a reader. Overall, I found that the tale still holds the charms of a wish fulfillment story where the hero is all the things a man could wish to be and the princess is alluring and in need of rescue.

The Summary

At the end of the Civil War Captain John Carter of Virginia had a handful of worthless Confederate dollars. Broke, he and a friend went to seek their fortune in Arizona. After savages kill his friend, he attempts to save his friend’s body from mutilation by hiding in a sacred cave. There he is overcome by a ‘delicious sense of dreaminess.’ When he wakens, Carter is in a strange, exotic land he knows at once to be Mars.

Before Carter can explore much of this new land, he is captured by fearsome, twelve-foot tall Green Martians. Over time he earns the respect of Tars Tarkus, a warlord of one of the Green Martian clans. But when the beautiful Red Martian, Dejah Thoris Princess of Helium, is taken captive by the Green Martians, John Carter falls in love.

Carter battles Green Martians, warring factions of Red Martians, and ultimately saves not only his beloved Red Martian Princess, but also unites the Green Martians, frees the besieged city of Helium, and ultimately saves the entire planet. And loses his love.

The Science

The planet Mars that Burroughs created for his story has little relation to what was known of the real planet even in 1911. In reality, gravity on Mars is about 1/3rd that of Earth so John Carter would be about three times as strong as the inhabitants of Mars. In the story, John Carter can launch himself thirty feet into the air and a hundred feet from his point of origin. Who doesn’t want to do that?public domain image of Mars from space, Going to Mars book reviews, lynettemburrows.com

ERB’s brief descriptions of Mars include some attempts to explain the variances from reality. There is a massive radium powered plant that manufactures the breathable atmosphere. Water from the melting polar caps is piped below ground to water a narrow strip of vegetation and crops. The moss-like vegetation that covers most of the planet is mostly water and sustains the various native beasts that wander the planet’s surface.

Throughout the book, there are glimpses of exotic people, animals, and customs. The barbaric culture of the Green Martians is in stark contrast to the ancient buildings they inhabit. Constructed of ‘gleaming white marble inlaid with gold and brilliant stones’ and filled with ‘evidences of extreme antiquity’ the buildings and their furnishings were proportionately small for the Green Martians.

The Red Martians are smaller, more human in appearance. Those from Helium are responsible for the scientific knowledge that maintains the water and atmosphere of the planet. But they, like the Green Martians, produce offspring by laying eggs.

There are airships and power in the eighth and ninth ‘rays’ of the sun. There are monstrous wild and domesticated beasts. These bits of background information create layers that invite your imagination to play.

The Rest of the Story

Burroughs did not sit idle while waiting for A Princess of Mars to be published. He wrote a number of poems, short stories, and articles during 1911 and 1912. He had rejections and he had sales. By June of 1912, he’d sold the novel, Tarzan, to be serialized in All Story Magazine. In July he began the first of what would be eleven novels in what we call the John Carter of Mars series. But it wasn’t until 1917 that A Princess of Mars came out as a book.

For more information about ERB’s life see the Later Bloomer post written by Debra Eve titled “Edgar Rice Burrows from Pencil Sharpener to Media Mogul.” or go to Edgar Rice Burroughs’ official website.

Final Thoughts

Critics say that Burroughs was inconsistent in style and eschewed research. But I think there is something that’s overlooked in those critiques.

Even though ERB’s Mars isn’t real, it entices the reader with hope. Tonight may be the night I fall asleep and awaken in a strange, exotic land. I could awaken tomorrow to epic adventures, thrilling sword fights, and daring rescues. Dreams can come true.

Isn’t that what we all wish for?

Next stop: C. L. Moore’s Northwest Smith

The Going to Mars, Word by Word series will be posted the first Monday of the month. You can see the first post in this series here.

The latest update from NASA’s rover, Curiosity.

Mars Rover Curiosity

 

I love it when you comment!

Going to Mars, Word by Word

The Power of Words

Do you remember when you first started to read?

Children recognize the power of words before they can form them. They know that books hold secrets long before they can read. Their curiosity and fascination drive them to turn pages of a book looking for the key to understanding. They beg to be read to. Finally, they are old enough to learn to read. But first, they must know their alphabet by sight and sound. There are only 26 letters but there are at least 44 sounds those letters, or combinations of letters, make. Finally, they learn to string the sounds together. Faces scrunch up with effort as they laboriously sound out letters on the page.

“rrrrr – ah–”
“No, that is a u. It’s sound here is ‘uh.’”
“rrrr – uhhhh – ennn. rrr—uhhhh—nnnn.”

Suddenly their face light up and they shout, “Run!” After the first word, the second, third, and fourth come more quickly. They turn the pages eagerly, finding new words and ideas on every page. They read nonfiction and fiction. Some progress to reading science fiction.

The Power of Ideas

The field of speculative fiction, or science fiction and fantasy if you prefer, has been referred to as the fiction of ideas. But science fiction is more than ideas. It’s words strung across a page that evoke images of worlds not-yet-seen, people who are the same-yet-different, people who are vastly different, and words that inspire ideas. Ideas that spur some us to take action, to become an inventor, an explorer, an astronaut, or an astronomer. And some of those inventors, explorers, astronauts, and astronomers turn their attention to Mars.

public domain image of Mars from space, Going to Mars book reviews, lynettemburrows.com

Melding Words and Ideas into Hope

We’ll never know what inspired the first man to look up at the night sky and notice a pinkish-red star. It’s color and cycle of appearing and disappearing from our skies, filled viewers with curiosity.

The first recorded observations of Mars we know of were written by ancient Egyptians. In 400 BC the Babylonians called the planet Mars, “Nergal,” the Star of Death. The Greeks named it Ares after their god of war. Its moons are Phobos (fear) and Deimos (terror). Perhaps it was the color that inspired men to associate the planet with such things.

In the 16th century, Copernicus proposed a heliocentric model for the solar system where the planets circled the sun. Kepler revised that, giving Mars an elliptical orbit. The telescope, invented in the early 1600s allowed men to take a closer look at this pinkish-red celestial mystery. Men like Galileo, Cassini, and Hershell peered at the red planet, each adding his observations to those of others. When Giovanni Schiaparelli made a map of Mars and called the lines ‘grooves’ (canali in Italian), the grooves became known as canals and lit the rockets of man’s imagination.

Publishing Mars

Although not the first book published using Mars, The Two Planets by German Kurd Lasswitz (1888) is thought by some to be the first significant work on Mars. In 1898, a mere ten years later, came H. G. Wells’s War of the Worlds. Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars came out in 1912. The Northwest Smith series of stories were written by C.L. Moore in the mid-1930s. By 1938 C.S. Lewis contributed Out of the Silent Planet to the growing number of books about Mars.

In 1941 Isaac Asimov wrote Heredity about twins separated at birth, raised on different planets, and having to work together on Mars. Robert A. Heinlein repeatedly used Mars from the late 1940s onward. The Fifties saw stories and novels about Mars published by Arthur Clark, Ray Bradbury, Lester del Ray, and John Wyndham among others. Larry Niven, Roger Zelazny, and Phillip K. Dick joined the field during the Sixties.

First to Arrive

Then Mariner 4, a US spacecraft, became the first to arrive at Mars in July 1965. It snapped about 20 pictures on its flyby. According to some, those pictures spelled the death of the mystique and mythology of Mars. Yet nothing could be further from the truth.

Among many others, Jerry Pournelle and Gordon Dickson published stories about Mars in the Seventies. The 1980’s saw works by Stanislaw Lem, Greg Bear, and S.M. Stirling. Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars series was published in the Nineties along with books by Ben Bova, Stephen Baxter, and scores of others. In 2000 Geoffrey A. Landis’ award-winning Mars Crossing was published.

In addition to all these printed words are films and television shows about Mars. There is no way this blog can cover all of the Mars fiction written. Literally, millions of words have been written about the red planet. And now that Curiosity has landed and Mars is being studied and written about again, one might expect another upsurge in novels set on Mars will be coming. Yet there are some who bemoan the fact that Science Fiction has lost its way.

In his August 17th post on Cracked.com, Robert Brockway says there are 4 Things Science Fiction Needs To Bring Back: the optimism, the sense of exploring for the future of mankind, some good old-fashioned mind f***ery, and the sense of fun.

Going to Mars, Word by Word

So in the spirit of exploration (pun intended) and in celebration of the landing of Curiosity, I am beginning a new series of posts. I’m collecting fiction, old and new, written about Mars. I’ll read the stories and report on them here. I’ll be looking for the sense of wonder, the sense of fun, the optimism for the future of mankind, and the good old-fashioned – storytelling (fooled ya, didn’t I?).

I have a copy of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars trilogy collected in one book. Interestingly enough it has an introduction written by Bruce Coville that fits as if he wrote it for this post. In his introduction Bruce says,

“How can I tell you how much I loved these books?
Would it be enough to say that there was a period in my life when the thing I wanted more than anything else in the world was to be John Carter? I used to go to bed at night hoping to wake up on Mars. . . .”

Could you wish your words had any more impact on a young person than that? Words have power. Spoken words. Written words. Your words. My words.

What better use than to write stories, collections of words, meant to power the imagination and optimism, to inspire men to send rockets and rovers millions of miles through space, to power hope for the future?

Won’t you join me in my exploration of the fascinating red planet in fiction? First: Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars, I hope you’re ready.

Next stop – Barsoom!

If you’ve read a Mars book, please leave a comment with the title of the book and what your thoughts are about it. I love it when you share your thoughts with me!

The image above is a public domain image from http://www.public-domain-image.com/full-image/space-public-domain-images-pictures/mars-planet-of-the-solar-system.jpg-royalty-free-stock-photograph.html