Friday, November 03, 2006

Orson Welles going to Mars and so can you!

The Orson Welles War Of The Worlds broadcast is going to Mars aboard the Phoenix spacecraft, due for landing in May 2007. A special DVD will contain the broadcast as well as a fantastic collection of material spanning centuries of human thought about the red planet. Works by top science fiction authors such as Ray Bradbury (The Martian Chronicles) and Issac Asimov (I'm in Marsport Without Hilda) will be included on the DVD, as well as fantasy images of Mars. Not only this, but you too can have your name encoded on the disc, which may well be found by far future explorers (human, or otherwise.) It's a great idea, and the full list of material which can be found on the Planetary Society website (who are sponsoring the endeavour) reads like a veritable who’s who of science fiction, but includes some less well known material. I particularly love that H Beam Piper's superb Omnilingual is included, surely one of the best stories ever written about Mars.

I suspect Orson Welles would have been thoroughly amused to know his broadcast would one day make the trip to Mars, but what would H.G. Wells have made of the idea? I think he would have been a little bemused but rather pleased. In my opinion, it is no exaggeration to say that if not for the fascination Wells created in fictional mars-scapes, mission likes Phoenix would simply not be happening, so you can say that things have finally come full circle. That Wells' War Of The Worlds (though perplexingly, only an excerpt of the text) is to rest on Mars, is a truly inspiring thought.