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Popular literature and films about Mars that capture our imagination

February 21, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 25.5%. 2 min read.

Much of our popular literature and films about Mars, such as "War of the Worlds," "Invaders from Mars," and "Mars Attacks!," has supposed that there is life on the red planet -- but life that is hostile and out to get us.

Much of our popular literature and films about Mars, such as "War of the Worlds," "Invaders from Mars," and "Mars Attacks!," has supposed that there is life on the red planet — but life that is markedly hostile to ours and out to get us.

Burroughs's Mars was very much like our Earth, with all its struggles for power and wealth, and Burroughs had a good explanation for why the planet had no evident water on the surface: Its inhabitants had diverted it to underground waterways, to protect it from evaporation and hide it from one another.

That's the Mars that Mark Watney finds in Andy Weir's brilliant 2011 "The Martian. " Apart from the plants he grows — he's an accomplished botanist — he's the sole life form on the red planet, having been lost in a howling sandstorm and abandoned by his fellow explorers.

Kim Stanley Robinson's 1990s "Mars Trilogy," made up of the novels "Red Mars," "Green Mars" and "Blue Mars," posits that soon — in 2026, to be exact — we'll begin that colonization, bringing Mars back to life through terraforming and creating an oxygenated atmosphere.

The trilogy is also refreshingly utopian, unlike the usual gloomy stance of much Mars-set fiction, in that Robinson imagines how by remaking the planet, we'll become better, more equitable people, welcoming strangers into our midst and founding a true Eden on high.

For his part, Elon Musk, the inventor and entrepreneur, has announced preliminary plans to fund a colony of at least 80,000 settlers, which puts us squarely into the territory of Ray Bradbury, the science fiction writer whose 1950 novel "The Martian Chronicles" envisions a sort of suburban Earth transposed to Mars.

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