Whew! What an intense few weeks. Amazing performances by Usain Bolt, Christine St Clair, the reunited Spice Girls, hmm, what else happened? Oh yeah…. A ROBOT LANDED ON MARS! MARS!!!
Ok, fair enough, the Olympics were a thrilling spectacle of athletic prowess, but seriously consider for a moment the magnitude of sending a rocket flying through the vastness of space and safely touching down on another planet… I think there is a team of engineers and astrophysicists that deserve to bite down on a gold medal too.
Of course, this also isn’t the first contact we've had with the red planet. Curiousity (nice name!), the plucky little rover that is currently exploring the planet is the latest in a number of robotic explorers that over the years have given us a clearer picture of the planet. The similarities in size and climate to Earth, and the tantalizing possibility of water and life continues to stoke our imaginations and ambitions to one day reach the planet.
But what will happen when we reach it? Humans don’t exactly have an impressive track record when it comes to encountering and then laying claim to ‘uncharted’ territory…so after the initial thrill of discovery, what can we expect? .
Although set on a fictional planet, Monica Hughes' classic Isis Trilogy offers one possible scenerio. Olwen, and her guardian -until recently the only residents on the remote planet of Isis- now have to come to terms with newly arrived colonists.
Recently republished on account of it's 100th Anniversary (I wonder if CPL had this book in it's collection in 1912, hmmm...) The Mars Trilogy by Edgar Rice Burroughs is a pulpy sci fi classic. Earth man John Carter finds himself mysteriously transported to a fantastically imagined Mars, complete with Martians! Skip the disappointing film adaptation and go right to the source for this one.
As the first book in a new trilogy by David MacInnis Gill, Black Hole Sun is a dark and gritty -and at times also humourous- story of sixteen-year-old Durango and his crew of mercenaries who are hired by the settlers of a mining community on Mars to protect their most valuable resource from a feral band of marauders.
Closer to home, in stories such as Girl from Mars and the critically acclaimed Manga series Mars, the planet plays a peripheral role, but also stands as a metaphor of the terrifying and wonderful emotional terrains of the strange world we currently find ourselves on.