Sunday, September 15, 2013

Martian Chronicles

Earthlings go to Mars. They treat Martians as second-class citizens. However, the Martians have telepathic powers that are not understood by the earthlings. Eventually earth is all but destroyed by nuclear war. Mars is also evacuated, with only a few people remaining.

There seem to be a lot of allegorical interpretations of these stories. The exploration of the new world seems an obvious one. The Europeans came and destroyed the natives lives and built up a great civilization. But they also built up the ability to destroy the world - and wreck havok on the world.

You could also look at general nation building. Western powers attempt to build nations in countries, yet often get subsumed by the culture. (Look at what has happened in Iraq or Afghanistan.)

In addition to "rockets to Mars", a key science fiction element here is "virtual perception". Martians use telepathy to make earthlings believe they are living in a certain world. In one case, an entire rocket crew believes they have arrived in a midwestern town, with all their relatives present. However, it turns out to be an illusion, and it was just a means to trap and kill the earthlings. In other stories, human-like robots are used. One survivor on mars has recreated robotic versions of his family. In another story about censorship, somebody creates a life-size "house of usher" based on Poe's (banned) story. He has a big party there, in which the censorship police attend. In the party the guests see other guests die in a horrible way. However, they then see that same guest walking around perfectly fine. They are told it is just the robot version of the guess that is being hurt. However, it turns out to be the reverse, with the real one suffering the fate.

The stories prod us to think about our own values and perceptions. Do we have false perceptions in our daily activities and interactions?

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