What do I mean by 5 days and money bags? I saw a post on Facebook today that said “This year March has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays. This happens once every 823 years. This is called money bags. So, share this with your friends and money will arrive within 4 days. Based on Chinese “Feng Shui”. The one who does not share…..will be without money.” *snicker* I wasn’t counting on the money, even if I did share (which I didn’t), but once every 823 years? That could be cool.
Researching the Story
As is often the case, I started chasing this information down to learn more. I typed ‘5 Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays’ into Google and the myth came crashing down. Snopes and Time and Date both reasonably and logically explain that the ‘once in 823 years’ is a myth. Well, drat!
I don’t do chain letters.Nor do I post things that promise me good fortune or love or whatever if I post it (or the reverse, threaten tragedy and misfortune). I recognize that those are superstitions and/or people pulling a gag. Yet, I wanted the 823 years thing to be true. I think a lot of us want things like this to be true. Why?
For some, the need for money is the reason they want to believe posts like this one. There are some folk who need to believe a wish can come true. While both of those needs can exist in any of us, and there may be a whole lot more reasons, it may all boil down to a simpler explanation. We all need to believe there are things, people, and events that are special, unique. We need to believe that we as individuals (and as a people) are special. That need is part of being human. Sometimes we look to other people, events, or things to make us special. That’s where we can get into trouble.
We need places like Snopes and Time and Date to keep us from blindly following a myth or gag into financial or emotional quicksand. But, we also need to feel special. How do we manage that? We believe.
I believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Superman, and that a single hero can save the day. And I believe in the possibility of a once in 823-year event. I believe in me and in you. I believe in being special. Do I believe in 5 days and money bags? In a way, I still believe. And in believing, I feel like I’ve gotten that money bag. What makes you feel special?
My DH and I were talking at dinner the other night about our lives as creative types and differences in the ways we perceive things. As is often the case, our discussion covered a wide range of possibles from the highly sensitive person to the mundanes who don’t understand us to the different modes of perception (he’s visual and I’m verbal). My DH said he thought that neither he nor I had ever lost the ability to be a child.
Children perceive the world differently from adults. Whether you are a writer, an artist, a laborer or scientist, I think all adults should remember to be a child, at least once in a while.
“All children are artists. The problem
is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”
~ Pablo Picasso
Use ALL Your Senses
“Children, like animals, use all their senses to discover the world. Then artists come along and discover it the same way all over again.”
~ Eudora Welty
“What are the conditions of the creative attitude, of seeing and responding, of being aware and being sensitive to what one is aware of? First of all, it requires the capacity to be puzzled.
Children still have the capacity to be puzzled.”
~ Erich Fromm
“As children, we all live in a world of imagination, of fantasy, and for some of us that world of make-believe continues into adulthood.” ~ Jim Henson
“He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.” ~Albert Einstein
“Kids: they dance before they learn there is anything that isn’t music.”
Believe in the Heroic
Children don’t have to be told to believe in heroics or heroes. They live their fantasies.
“Nurture your minds with great thoughts. To believe in the heroic makes heroes.”
~ Benjamin Disraeli
Be A Child
“Like a forgotten fire, a childhood can always flare up again within us.” ~ Gaston Bachelard
So play, imagine, be curious, see the world with awe through child-like eyes. Believe. Being a child, for just a little while, can change your world.
I’d love to hear from you. Please share. Do you take time to be a child? How does being a child help you as an adult?
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.
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.
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