Going to Mars, Word by Word with Man Plus

The next stop on our Going to Mars, Word-by-Word tour is the Nebula award-winning novel, Man Plus by Fredrik Pohl, published in 1976. By the mid-seventies, Pohl had been writing and publishing stories for almost 40 years. The writing reflects that. Smoothly written, it is a quick and entertaining read.   THE SET-UP In reality the early 1970’s were a time of disco dances like the hustle, world wide unrest and fear of terrorist bombings, hijackings, kidnappings, and assassinations. There were economic worries and hardships and a huge energy crisis. The United States, USSR, and France were doing nuclear tests on their own soil. Space Mountain opened at Disneyland and Jaws by Steven Spielberg had its premier. The television show The Bionic Man was popular. Apollo 18 and Soyuz 19 rendezvoused in space. And the Viking 2 Mars probe was launched. Man Plus takes place in the not-too-distant future when the overpopulated earth is on the brink a world war battling over the few remaining natural resources on the planet. The fate of humanity rests on the people and the project inside a building in Tonka, Oklahoma.   WHAT IT’S ABOUT When former astronaut Col. Roger Torraway volunteered to be […]

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 […]