I once wrote a short story partly inspired by the idea that we might know so much about Mars now that a work like Martian Chronicles couldn't be written today--a very sad thought indeed.
Martian Chronicles wasn't the first time I read Ray, but it was the first time I really *got* him. I was struck by many things about his writing, including the sheer poetry of it.
After I finished reading MC I felt a little sad because it seemed to belong to a different time, before Mariner and Viking, certainly before Pathfinder.
So I ask, do we know too much about Mars now? Could Ray have written it today? Is there any room left on Mars for Martians of the imagination? Or will Martians go the way of the sea-serpent?
Well, the Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan series are still wonderful fantasy. The JRR Tolkien works fabricated a new history on earth. And the Robert E. Howard Conan and Krull stories are fantasies set on a mythological earth. So I don't think it would be impossible.
I think the problem would not be the technological advances and scientific knowledge, it would be the heightened cynicism and an inability to create new fantasy worlds and sensitivities in our own minds.
Also, I don't think the sea serpent is dead, someone just needs to write a great story or book with one in it.
If Bradbury wanted to do more Martian stories, I have no doubt he could do them. Did anyone believe (even in the 40's) that man could breathe unassisted on Mars?
Cameras orbit Mars and stand on Mars. What do we see?
Cameras can sit right here on a unpopulated vast stretch of land on Earth, and what do we see? Well, for one, buried for eons and eons, right in front of us, are the bones of dinosaurs ...and a history unimagined until recently.
What do we see? Absolutely not a thing...yet.
If somebody can write "The Lord of the Rings"...about a civilization that existed before History was ever written, and vanished without a trace....and call it MiddleEarth, right here where we live, then the possibilities of stories on another planet are still as vast as imagination....!
click on: http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/image/planetary/mars/vikinglander2-2.jpg
[This message has been edited by Nard Kordell (edited 01-17-2003).]
I kinda liked the story in "The Bradbury Chronicles" about the astronaut exploring Mars who found himself in Bradbury's Mars instead. Maybe there is another dimension on Mars or something.
>> I think the problem would not be the technological advances and scientific knowledge, it would be the heightened cynicism and an inability to create new fantasy worlds and sensitivities in our own minds.
I think you hit the nail on the head. There are probably two kinds of people in this world; those that look at pictures from Mars and see only rocks. And those that see a boundless playground for the imagination.
I had a friend offer a theory as to why there has been such a sudden drop off in the general interest of space travel. Essentially, my generation - I'm 19 - does not have much to dream about (this is his explanation, and I don't subscribe to all of it, especially that last comment). We've landed on the moon. With Hubble, we can see unbelievable distances. We've put robots on Mars. We have supersonic jets and fiber optic communications. My father was a child during the space race - and everybody wanted to get to the moon. Excitement was rampant, dreams of the moon and Mars and the sun were everywhere. Now that we've "been there, done that," I think people feel we should stop putting money into something that's supposedly over with.
Still, the thoughts and visions in my head will never allow me to lose interest in things as wonderful as space travel. If the cosmos are even 10% of what I dream them to be, I'll never lose that love. I'm confident that Ray Bradbury, along with anybody else who dreams fantastically, will be the ones setting foot on Martian soil someday.
Slightly off topic: others have mentioned some of the more popular fantasy books and series of the past. One that is commonly overlooked (actually, I've never met anybody else who have read these) is the Swords series by Fred Saberhagen.
Something about what you said triggers this post...about being excited about things, inventions, space travel, etc.
Let me say that ...I come out of the Vietnam Era. When I was in elementary school, Elvis was just becoming King. Back then, I remember well the talk...even into High School, which was.... that everything has already been invented. Did you get that? That there was absolutely nothing left for the new post -war (WW II) generation to get excited about. If you never heard of that, believe me... I lived thru it.
Space travel was for punks, spoken with even more expressive labels. World War 2 killed over 70 million people. Just ten years after the war, Rock and Roll was taking stage, people wanted normal lives, but things were beginning to happen. By 1957, cars dazzled everyone with fins, like the day I remember the 1957 Plymouth pulled up to school and I mean EVERYONE ran to the window to see it. Color television was being talked about being on the horizon. What ELSE could possibly be invented?
Well, guess what!!? Everything ELSE was invented. And today, everything ELSE more is ready to be invented and discovered.
When I look around I say to myself, this is nothing. What's coming will boggle the most imaginative mind today. This is nothing, believe me. This is nothing compared to what's coming...
Yes, I've heard many of those quotes, and I find it quite asinine for people to say traveling faster than the speed of light, or even time travel are "hopelessly impossible! They will never, ever do any of that!" (Actually, scientists have already broken the speed of light...with a particle of light. So apparently 2.98X10^8 m/s is just cruising speed.)
Here's a hilarious website dealing in quotes regarding technology and similar things:
My favorite, somewhere near the bottom, is this:
"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau." -- Irvine Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929
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