Going to Mars Word by Word with an Optimistic Knight

We’re going to Mars today via the words of one of the “Big Three*,” Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s The Sands of Mars. Clarke said, “I have a special fondness for Sands, as it was my first full-length novel”. Published in 1951 it is an optimistic story of the early days of colonizing Mars. So hop aboard, let’s explore Mars with an Optimistic Knight. I read an omnibus edition paired with The City and the Stars. Warner Aspect published the omnibus in 2001. In the introduction, Clarke makes wry note of the year, and says, “When I tapped out ‘The End’ on my Remington Noiseless (ha!) Portable in 1951, I could never have imagined that twenty years later I would be sitting on a panel with Ray Bradbury and Carl Sagan at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory waiting for the first news of the real Mars to arrive from the Mariner Space Probes. . .”. Nor could he imagine the Mars we’ve come to know through modern telescopes and NASA rovers. Clarke does not romanticize the harsh conditions he imagined the colonists would have to survive. He used the best scientific information available at the time but admits there are errors in […]

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 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, […]

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 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 […]