New version page

INTELLIGENT LIFE ON MARS

Upgrade to remove ads

This preview shows page 1-2-3-4 out of 13 pages.

Save
View Full Document
Premium Document
Do you want full access? Go Premium and unlock all 13 pages.
Access to all documents
Download any document
Ad free experience
Premium Document
Do you want full access? Go Premium and unlock all 13 pages.
Access to all documents
Download any document
Ad free experience
Premium Document
Do you want full access? Go Premium and unlock all 13 pages.
Access to all documents
Download any document
Ad free experience
Premium Document
Do you want full access? Go Premium and unlock all 13 pages.
Access to all documents
Download any document
Ad free experience

Upgrade to remove ads
Unformatted text preview:

Jayson Criddle Hum. Bio. 4 2/21/03 Intelligent Life on Mars: Depictions of Intelligence in Science Fiction To most ancient peoples, Mars was a god, harbinger of war and destruction. While our knowledge of the nature of Mars changed greatly over the ensuing centuries, the attraction Mars holds for the human imagination never waned and continues to our day. Since the discovery that Mars was in fact a planet similar to Earth, the idea that it might harbor intelligent life has enthralled many people. Thus it is only natural that science fiction authors, those members of the human race who put into print the imagination of the species, should turn much of their efforts to speculation about the form and nature of such life. What is striking about this body of literature depicting Mars is its homogeneity. While the methods of presentation may vary from work to work, two themes truly dominate the genre: first, the decay and decline of Mars as a planet and Martian civilization in particular and second, the impact which humanity has on Mars and the ways in which Mars, in turn, impacts those earthlings who live on it, especially evident in the transformation of earthlings into Martians. Before discussing these themes, attention must be given to the discovery made by Mariner 4 in July 1965 and confirmed beyond any doubt by Mariner 9 in November 1971 that Mars is incapable of supporting intelligent life. Understandably, this discovery had a profound impact on writers of science fiction concerning Mars, especially concerning intelligent life. While scientists had suspected for quite a while that Mars, in particularthe Martian atmosphere, could not sustain intelligent life, it wasn’t until the Mariner missions sent back images of the surface and analyses of the atmosphere that all doubt was laid to rest. Thus authors writing prior to the Mariner missions, such as Roger Zelazny (“A Rose for Ecclesiastes”), could continue to write stories involving native Martians and expeditions from Earth that could breathe the Martian atmosphere unaided. The premise that Mars was so much like Earth that no extraordinary measures were required for earthlings to live there was accepted without question by authors such as Edgar Rice Burroughs (the “Barsoom” novels), C.S. Lewis (Out of the Silent Planet), and Ray Bradbury (The Martian Chronicles). That H.G. Wells’ Martians in War of the Worlds are similarly able to survive on Earth confirms his acceptance of the similarity of the two worlds. With the information sent back from the Mariner missions, science fiction authors had to adapt their writing to the accepted facts of Martian reality. They adopted a number of ways of either incorporating or getting around these discoveries. The simplest of these methods was simply ignoring the conditions of Mars and continuing as before. An author who does this runs the risk of becoming obsolete, and perhaps these stories should be categorized as fantasy rather than science fiction. Fortunately, most of these stories were either written by authors such as Ray Bradbury, whose story “The Love Affair”, written in 1982, was basically nothing more than another chapter of The Martian Chronicles, who had established styles and were not expected to abandon them or as tributes to these authors, as in the case of Michael Moorcock’s “Lost Sorceress of the Silent Citadel”, Mike Resnick and M. Shayne Bell’s “Flower Children of Mars”, and Paul Di Filippo’s “A Martian Theodicy”. A notable exception is The Second Invasion fromMars by Soviet brothers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, published in English in 1979. In this story, the reader is never quite certain whether those who take over power in the area in which the story is set are Martians or just really strange humans. The protagonist of the story, Mr. Apollo, is at first convinced that the invaders cannot be Martians: When will we ever learn to stop believing in rumors? For it is well known that Mars has an extremely thin atmosphere, its climate is excessively severe and almost lacks water, the basis of all life. The myths about the canals were thrown overboard a long time ago, since the canals turned out to be nothing more than an optical illusion. In brief, all this recalls the panic of the year before last, when one-legged Polyphemus ran around town with a fowling piece shouting that a gigantic man-eating triton has escaped from the zoo. (Strugatsky, 165) Yet as the tale continues and Apollo is exposed to the invaders’ strange technology and obsession with stomach juice, he comes to the opinion that they are indeed Martians, despite the fact that the closest he comes to actually interacting with a Martian is a (perhaps imagined) encounter after which he and the friend he was with can neither clearly remember what happened nor agree on the details which they do remember (Strugatsky, 216-218). By using this subtle approach, the Strugatsky brothers are able to involve “Martians” as characters in their work without these Martians actually being present. Most authors, however, have found ways to incorporate the nature of Mars into their writings rather than simply ignoring it. The most common practice among authors of “serious” science fiction is to focus on the transformation of humans into Martians, to be discussed in greater detail below. Thus Martians in these stories are imported Martians. Some, in a manner reminiscent of people convinced that the so-called “Face on Mars” seen in a photo of the surface is evidence of past intelligent life on Mars, write of ruins and artifacts found on Mars from a dead civilization that was either indigenous toMars or transplanted there from elsewhere. “The Real Story” by Alastair Reynolds and “No Jokes on Mars” by James Blish fall into this category. Others like Patrick O’Leary’s “The Me After the Rock,” in which an entity inhabiting a rock on Mars possesses one of the astronauts exploring the planet, depict intelligent life that is so different from humanity as to be almost unrecognizable as intelligence. Perhaps the most inventive is the approach taken by Eric Brown in his short story “Myths of the Martian Future.” This story is set so far in the future that the sun has expanded into a red giant, destroying Earth and warming Mars to the point that intelligent macrobiological life forms can appear after millions of years of evolution. For


Download INTELLIGENT LIFE ON MARS
Our administrator received your request to download this document. We will send you the file to your email shortly.
Loading Unlocking...
Login

Join to view INTELLIGENT LIFE ON MARS and access 3M+ class-specific study document.

or
We will never post anything without your permission.
Don't have an account?
Sign Up

Join to view INTELLIGENT LIFE ON MARS 2 2 and access 3M+ class-specific study document.

or

By creating an account you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use

Already a member?