children of mars
our scientific understanding of Mars has changed over time, through observations
and expeditions, our understanding of the planet in science fiction has
remained relatively constant. Two themes of mars resound in science fiction
literature: the decline of martian civilization and the effect humans
have on mars.
----Expeditions to Mars, such as the Mariner missions, have given us evidence that the surface and atmosphere of Mars are inhabitable to humans and life in general. Previous to this it was widely accepted, especially by writers of science fiction, that Earth and Mars were quite similar. Humans, they believed, would be able to live on Mars rather easily.
----After these discoveries writers employed a few different techniques to incorporate or get around them. The easiest was to ignore the new discoveries and risk becoming obselete. Writers such as Ray Bradbury did this with stories such as “The Love Affair” which was written similarly to the earlier stories called The Martian Chronicles. Some tributes stories were written in the same style as authors such as Bradbury and were, therefore, not required to incorporate the new discoveries.
----Another technique was to use humans as Martians. In other words, the Martians were actually imported from elsewhere, not indiginous. These new implants to Mars sometimes found artifacts from an earlier civilization
other authors used even more creative techniques such as Patrick O’Leary’s
“The Me After the Rock,” which uses a Martian lifeform that
is extremely different from as, on that can just inhabit a rock, or swtich
to a human. Eric Brown decided to switch the time so extrodinarily that
the sun has since become a red giant, engolfing the Earth and warming
Mars to the point of being capable of supporting life.
----If actual Martians were used, they were almost without fail a declining civilization. For instance, H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds shows the Martian civilization declining on Mars to such a degree that they are trying to invade and take over Earth. The Martian Chronicles is another story that shows the Martians in such a state of decline that it only take an outbreak of chicken pox to wipe them out.
science fiction writers will explain Mars as a frontier. Similarly to
the “Wild West” of the early United States, Mars is seen as
a territory to be transformed into something humans can live on. In doing
so, humans actually become Martians.
----Mars in science fiction is a reflecting glass for humans. The way we treat Mars and its inhabitance reflects how we treat our world and our neighbors.