After I posted today’s Headline Muse, the following leaped into my consciousness, unbidden:
Though it promised us trips through the stars,
Cryogenics, and yes, flying cars,
Science fiction must bow
To our science facts now…
That’s the word from our robot on Mars.
Science fiction is cool. It is. I remember reading about time travel, and human colonies on distant worlds, and paranormal abilities, and robots, aliens, androids, and the future of human evolution.
And it was really cool.
But I also remember us landing on the moon. And as cool as the possibility of the moon’s being made of green cheese was, a real human footprint beat that all to hell. And then there were the various probes, and the Hubble, and orbiters around distant planets.
And great science fiction is still great. But damn, we have landed a robot, with cameras and a laser and analysis equipment, on Mars. Mars. The quintessential science fiction planet. War of the Worlds. Please. The Martian Chronicles? Even the recent Doctor Who had The waters of Mars–and don’t get me started on Marvin the Martian. (I have no doubt that my readers are well aware that I have barely scratched the surface here, and that dozens more examples of Martian literature exist.)
And every day, the Mars Curiosity Rover is kicking the ass of every single one of these examples. In the same way that falling in love kicks the ass of reading about falling in love. As it always is, and always should be. Writing about Martians is different now… now that Curiosity is tweeting from Mars.