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In Which I Decline a Free Ticket to Mars

July 21, 2011 at 5:32 pm

In the not-too-distant past, a mythological creature quizzed me, and several other writers, on our aspirations for visiting another planet.

It tickles me to see myself listed alongside folks like Charlie Stross, Daniel Abraham, Lauren Beukes, Jack Skillingstead, Ted Kosmatka, and Jason Stoddard.   All those smart, talented writers.  Not sure how I conned the Yeti into thinking I belonged among that company -- or even that I was somebody with halfway intelligent things to say -- but heck.  I'll take it.  Every baseball team needs a bat boy, right?

And I'm glad to see I'm not the only person who thought the prospect of living on Mars too lonely for words.  I like to explore the world in my own way, but I'm pretty sure I don't have The Right Stuff insofar as one-way trips to barren, deadly desert planets goes.  (Unless, of course, we're talking about Arrakis.  Because I'd have to give that some serious thought.)  I'd love to experience weightlessness (or, perhaps more correctly, microgravity) but not at the expense of all human contact foreverandeveramen.

Besides, I've already watched both the US and UK versions of Life on Mars.  So I know how it turns out in the end.



Tengland July 21, 2011 at 10:20 pm
I'd go. I'd be away from all you bothersome humans. It'd be nice, though if the occasional e-books were beamed at me. The Coldest War, say, or the rest of the Game of Thrones books (assuming my oxygen lasts that long).
Steve Halter July 22, 2011 at 8:03 am
I think the coldness (-125 to 23 F) would wear on me. A Minnesota winter is bad enough. I need some green every now and then. So, for the second part of the question, if they would just pre-Terraform the place before I got there, that wouldn't be so bad. And, change the name to Barsoom, officially.
DMS July 22, 2011 at 9:02 am
Given that I heard of you by way of Yeti's interview with Daniel Abraham a couple years ago, I don't find your inclusion at all surprising.
John Murphy July 22, 2011 at 9:48 am
I'm so disappointed that nobody went with "Good luck, Mr. Gorsky"
Mike July 22, 2011 at 11:33 am
I think I'd be very happy exploring the volcanoes and canyons of Mars. So many things to see that are utterly familiar in the rocks and processes of Earth, and so many things that will be new. There would be the epic views from the cliffs of Mons Olympus, the early morning fog banks rolling through the Valles Marineris and the extraordinary blue sunsets; there'd be a chance to meet fellow visitors from Earth sitting in the dust where their batteries died. To follow the tracks of the little robot that could across plains and craters, to find the remains of the Soviet and British probes and see what catastrophe meant they never got a chance to send a message home. And all the time there would be the chance that my boot would overturn a rock containing something amazing. If you've ever turned over a stone to see a fossil and realise you are the first person to see that object in millions of years you'll know the thrill - but just imagine what it would be like to see a Martian fossil. Yes, I think I could be happy. Right up until the point the UV devoured my body.
Ian July 22, 2011 at 11:38 am
But, Terry, how would you beam your books back to us? Don't tell me your trip to Mars wouldn't become one hell of a writing retreat... Totally agreed on the need for green AND changing the name to Barsoom, Steve. Heck, I live on Earth and still feel the need for more green sometimes. You have an impressive memory, Dawn! I would have thought that by now people would have figured out I'm just a regular guy, rather than some fancypants author who's all smart and stuff. John, I admit I was surprised that more people didn't react in the theater when they snuck that line into the opening montage of Watchmen.
Ian July 22, 2011 at 11:51 am
That's a very cool (and well-put) sentiment, Mike. As a part-time misanthrope myself, I can totally understand this. Except even at my most misanthropic I know I'd miss having even a tenuous connection to other human beings. I think it boils down to your being much more brave than I.
Scott Denning July 22, 2011 at 2:41 pm
The long-lost Burroughs novel: The Misanthropes of Mars.
Ian July 22, 2011 at 2:50 pm
I hear they're turning that into a feature film: John Carter, Ascetic Hermit of Mars.
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