Mars as it may once have been

Note: I dream of Mars several times a year. It’s always a bleak place, of dark shadows and a surface like the upper slopes of Mount Etna. Life, when present, is generally small and exo-skeletal. Otherwise, I often wander through vast cryogenic labyrinths underground, where the power has long since failed and the occupants have become shrivelled husks. I doubt these new pictures will find their way into my dream world – indeed, I like things the way they are – but they are interesting. SIG

18 responses to “Mars as it may once have been

  1. Various posts seem to be duplicated and other old ones (not the ones from your archieves) have appeared re-dated.The UKIP thread with 20+ comments has vanished.I think your computers are the fault.

  2. Not our fault. Blame WordPress.

    However, I’ve just had a look, and everything looks in order. The UKIP post is still showing here:

    Every so often, I tell David Davis that something is badly wrong on the Blog. He always tells me he can’t see what I do.

    I suggest you refresh your browser – press f5.

  3. I can see the UKIP post fine: not sure what it was trying to say but that’s a different issue…. Every so often, I call up a random date and see if all the posts (if any) are showing that are indicated by a post having been present on the calendar thingy on the right, and if they are present in the index of “all posts” which we have on ouor dashboard.

    They all seem to appear.

    I am trying to find some automated process whereby we can back up the entire blog including all comments, in case of some disaster of any sort, such as governments shutting down this blog or whatever.

  4. Disappointingly, these aren’t scientifc pictures, in the sense of being a reasonable scientific estimate of the climate, biosphere etc of a life bearing Mars. I’ve actually been looking for somethng like that for some time, because I have a story in mind set on a future terraformed Mars (which has fallen into a dark age, due to a mysterious severing of contatct with Earth), but so far as I can tell nobody has done any serious study of what a Mars with a proper atmosphere, circumpolar Northern ocean, and life, might be like. I am not enough the scientist to do that myself, so I remain stymied, since the story would require a decent approximation of the conditions.

    It’s only a pipe dream, really. I fantasise about having a movie budget and being able to hire scientists as consultants to do that bit for me, and so on.

    One thing is, I imagine an ocean in Mars’s lower gravity would look quite remarkable, with its tall, slow waves. Clouds would be taller too of course; and to get 1 bar or thereabouts at sea level, that atmospheric column would be much taller than Earth’s. So the atmosphere, and sunsets and so on, would be rather spectacular.

    I imagine that with that circumpolar ocean, unbroken by land masses, there would be some rather fierce winds racing around in a circle for sailors to deal with. But, I’m not a climatologist or meteorologist, so that’s just speculation. Hadley cells, something or other. I dunno. The story pretty much requires some desserts near the equator reaching to the shore of the northern ocean, at least North East of Hellas, but I have no idea how plausible that is either.

    It’s a trilogy; Elysium, Hellas, Tharsis. Chicks fighting with swords. The development from primitive tribalism to libertarian capitalism, over a couple of centuries. On Mars. Totally awesome. Can somebody lend me a hundred millions dollars to get started? You can have a free tee shirt. Promise.

    David, is this any help?

    • My own novel will take the current deadness of Mars as a fact, and will concentrate on what can be found in those underground labyrinths. Most of my plotlines, by the way, originate in dreams.

  5. Just to clarify, by “lend” I mean “give”.

  6. Mine originated from my subconscious some while after the disappointing John Carter movie. The world needs a really good swordfighting on Mars movie, and that wasn’t it.

    I was thinking of some kind of scheme in which I ask for £1 from every Libertarian in Britain to fund it. But on reflection, I don’t think I could achieve very much with £50.

    I did write a novel once, in the 90s, but it wasn’t much good. I think I’m more of a visual arts kinda guy.

    • What was it about?

      I suggest one of the reasons many ideological novels are so bad is that the authors think good fiction is created by putting speech marks round slabs of preaching:


      Her eyes widened as she beheld my swollen manhood. “But surely the act of creating purchasing power,” she groaned, “stimulates the production of real wealth.”

      I entered her without lubrication. “Not so,” I gasped. “You cannot increase the distance between London and York by declaring that a foot is only eleven inches long. The most that inflation can achieve is to deceive people about the true costs and profits of economic activity. Then there is the empowerment of the ruling class that comes about by giving it and its clients first use of the new money.”

      Her orgasm lasted twenty seven seconds. My own was beyond compare. Outside the smart hotel that entrepreneurship had provided for our amours, the leftist mob continued its animalistic screaming for the right to loot the productive….


      A novel needs a credible plot. Its ideological message is largely by implication. If you want to see really bad ideological fiction, read the Marquis de Sade. His “La Philosophie dans le boudoir” is so bad, it’s actually funny.

  7. Made me LOL, Sean :)

    What was it about? Too much and too little. Mainly about how bad a writer I am. It didn’t know whether it was sci-fi, fantasy or horror, and whether it was a comedy or not. It attempted depth, but remained resolutely shallow.

    I’m pretty good with character and dialogue, but rubbish at descriptive prose. Hence, comics suit me better, because I can draw things instead of describing them.

    The street was very big. He looked up at the big buildings surrounding him, his eyes moving from one to another, each bigger than the last, finally settling on the biggest tower of all, the Biggins Building.

    A car drew up, the biggest he had ever seen. The door slid open, and a voice said, “Get in”.

    It was Mr Big.


    Not my forte, really, prose.

  8. It has to be said Sean – your dreams are certainly better than mine.

  9. Gosh, I wish I could write like that.

  10. Do you know what, chaps? I should have liked to have been on the First Ship, to Mars. It would have been quite an adventure. I might have been the “Science Officer”, or one of his “underlings”, perhaps. That would have been good enough.

    But I don’t think I’ll be making the trip any time soon. It’s sad really. I don’t mind, I guess, but it would have been fun, and rather nice. When I get up in front of St Peter at the Gates, and try to blag my way in, probably I’ll spin a yarn about “how I got passed over for the Mars-trip, by all those scumbag-GramscoFabiaNazis”, for the job.

  11. To this lit-fest I must add my own contribution which is part-plagerized(TM) and is neither good nor original:

    “”A handbag?” she said quietly, the bubbles rising from the depths of her glass decompressing to extinction before reaching the surface of her nasti spumanti , vintage 802,701.
    ” “No” sez I, “it is the remains of a living scrotum and it has been made into a supple leather sack in which I will carry your severed,shrunken head on my Martian Oddyssey. These two, shining blue beads”–here I raised a minatory finger–“will serve in place of your eyes and some would give their souls to see the rare, transcendent sights that shall reflect in them off our purple Martian sea.” ”

    All I need is a book contract and some help with punctuation and I feel a new career beckons.

  12. Ian, that sounds descriptive enough. A novel requires a plot, and characters who behave according to their nature in response to the plot. Saying what people and places look like is often best avoided.

  13. By the way, just back from Slovakia, after a 24 hour drive through rain. Shattered and in need of restorative gin.

  14. David – you could still be on the first ship to Mars, although it is a long shot at our age.

    Ian – well ERB did write “Under the Red Flag” (the horror of a future socialist America under Chicago – of course it could not possibly happen….), but he could not get a publisher (the conservative publishers set up to fight the leftist publishing cartel in the United States did not really exist till after World War II), so he turned it (I am told) into another Mars story.

    I like Rand as a writer – although (yes) the lady was very much in the Russian tradition of writing. If one does not like long (but passionatly sincere – and well structured arguments) speeches – then one should indeed avoid her work.

    Sean – well you made it, and you are back safe.

    So the drive was a success.

  15. Good you got back safe old fella. It’s a long way at our age, isn’t it. But I always found that to drive to Prague or Brno (I went a couple of times to Carnogursky’s office too as you know) was far more convenient than flying or whatever. You could take whatever or whoever you wanted, and come back similarly, and any time of day or night. On one trip in 1990 I came back with a Slovak engineer, 10 bottles of Becherovka, and 40 cases of champagne. Dover customs were highly amused….(we paid up.)

  16. Nasty drive both ways. Heavy rain on the way out – reduced to 50mph, even on the German motorways. The only improvement came half way through Austria, when the rain stopped, and the water on the roads turned to ice. On the way back, more heavy rain, though only to Nuremberg. As ever, foreign drivers got thoroughly on my tits.

    Nice stay in Slovakia. Mrs G. let me open the Karajan 1963 recording of the Beethoven Symphonies, though I must now wait till she goes out before I can play any of them above a gentle whisper.

    Mr Blake’s books are doing very well out there. Will upload pictures in due course of some very flattering displays.