Thursday, 13 April 2017

Alternative Mars

Fictitiously, Earth exists in alternative pasts and presents and therefore by extension also in alternative futures, as SM Stirling shows with his Draka timeline. Similarly, Mars exists in alternative futures, therefore also by extension in alternative presents and pasts. In Poul Anderson's Psychotechnic History, native Martians are mentioned although not encountered whereas, in Anderson's Technic History, Mars was uninhabited but will be colonized by an extrasolar race. Thus, these are two of many Marses.

Alan Moore and Larry Niven each wrote a composite Mars inhabited by several races from different sf works. However, apart from these two exceptions, each Martian race - or set of races, e.g., ERB's greens, reds etc - exists in an alternative timeline. CS Lewis has one Mars (Malacandra) in a novel and another in a short story. "Ministering Angels" could have fitted into the Ransom Trilogy timeline if it had been set in a space station or Lunar base instead of on Mars. However, the Ransom narrative incorporates an alternative Earth in "The Dark Tower" so why not also an alternative Mars?

On reflection, the Old Phoenix seems like a very Terrocentric inter-cosmic inn even though the Taverner on one occasion speaks to shadowy sparkling beings. Could there be a Martian equivalent called, e.g., the Old Egg or the Original Egg since ERB's Martians hatch from eggs? If the Taverner was an Erbian green, then maybe another green could fight him to the death to run the inn? Anderson's colonists of Mars would be able to meet several alternative native Martians and learn the histories of the planet.


S.M. Stirling said...

BTW, just in case you're interested, I also did an alternate history where Mars and Venus were terraformed in the remote past by unknown aliens, and seeded with various types of Terrestrial life. The titles are (Venus) THE SKY PEOPLE, and (Mars) IN THE COURTS OF THE CRIMSON KINGS.

Paul Shackley said...

Mr Stirling,
Thank you. If you search the blog for these titles, you will find that I have discussed them.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Dear Mr. Stirling,

I've read your two "Lords of Creation" books twice, and loved them! I esp. relished your IN THE COURTS OF THE CRIMSON KINGS.


Paul Shackley said...


David Birr said...

*The Sky People* grabbed me more, for the most part ... but I LOVED the science fiction writers cameo from the opening of *In the Courts of the Crimson Kings*.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Paul: Yes, I knew that. I know you found the hominids of Mars too dry and astringent for your taste. But that's probably one reason why I liked IN THE COURTS OF THE CRIMSON KINGS, the people there were DIFFERENT.

As for THE SKY PEOPLE, I admit I was kinda rooting for the "beast men," the Neanderthals. Some researchers think now the Neanderthals were as intelligent as Homo sapiens and were able to talk.

David: aha, I know what you meant. I very much LIKED that cameo you mentioned. Esp. the glimpses we got of such writers as Poul Anderson, Robert Heinlein, and Jack Williamson (I think).