054: A Martian Odyssey

From the December 9, 1906 edition of The New York Times.
From the December 9, 1906 edition of The New York Times.

An episode on certain developments in astronomy in the early years of the twentieth century: the appearance of Comet Halley, of a second, brighter comet, the Tunguska event, and the debate on the possibility of life on Mars.






Opening Theme

Composed by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

1. X. 1905
Composed in 1905 by Leoš Janáček. Public domain.
Performed by Pandora Selfridge. Public domain recording. Source.

Symphony No. 1 in D major
Composed by Gustav Mahler in 1888. Public domain.
Performed by the DuPage Symphony Orchestra, Barbara Schubert conducting.
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 License. Source.

Closing Theme

Except when otherwise indicated, the contents of this podcast are © and ℗ 2016 by Mark Painter, all rights reserved. Some sound effects used by arrangement with Pond 5.

2 thoughts on “054: A Martian Odyssey

  1. Nooooo. You did not mention Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land”. One of the last and best Mars civilization books. How could you miss such a cultural milestone? I may have to discorporate to grok in fullness. May you never thirst.

    • Ah, well. I considered “Stranger” and also Heinlein’s “Red Planet,” which are maybe about the same Mars and the same Martians. Actually, “Red Planet” is the more interesting of the two, in terms of its description of Mars: human colonists sharing the planet with the remnant Martian civilization, and canals, and the interesting idea of the colonists migrating between the northern and southern hemispheres to avoid the winter (much easier than it would be on Earth because the distance to travel is smaller and the longer year means you have more time for the trip.)

      By the time Heinlein published “Stranger,” he and everyone else knew that Mars was uninhabitable, but was, like Bradbury, clinging to the old images of Mars for the sake of the story. Which is okay, don’t get me wrong.

      As I prepared the episode for final release, I went back and forth on whether to include those two Heinlein novels or not. In the end, I chose to leave them out, because I felt I already had offered enough evidence to make my point, and two more books might have been pushing it.

      But I promise you it was not because I was ignorant of these two stories, or dismissive of them. It’s just that I have to draw the line somewhere. “Stranger” may very well make it into the podcast when we get to the 1960s.

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