Why Mars?

curiosity-rover-sky-cranePeople have been asking me, are you really writing a novel about Mars? Yes, I am. Followed by, why Mars?

I’ve had an interested in travel to Mars going back to my teens. I went through a period where I read quite a number of science fiction novels. The ones that stood out for me were The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury and Stranger In A Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. More recently, I’ve been attracted to the escapist or fantasy novels by Jonas Jonasson such as The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. Over the past year, I decided that a humour book about Mars would be my next writing project. It started with a short story written for a writing course that I took last year at the University of Toronto and just grew from there.

Afterall, Mars is the next frontier for exploration. It’s been 47 years since man first stepped on the Moon. The last Moon landing was 1972. Since that time, attention has slowly been shifting to Mars and the other planets. Most people don’t even realize that there have been 47 missions to Mars over the past 50 years. Roughly two-thirds of all missions destined for Mars have failed.  Mars has developed a reputation as a difficult space exploration target. Just this week, a lander launched by the European Space Agency (ESA) crashed while attempting to land on Mars. Only NASA has been successful in getting robotic landers onto the planet’s surface.

The ultimate goal is human missions to Mars, leading to a permanent colony. The race is on. Not only are NASA, ESA, China and Russia involved but also a number of ambitious private sector initiatives. In 2012, a Dutch entrepreneur group began raising funds for a human Mars base to be established in 2023, called Mars One. Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla has also joined the race. His project, SpaceX, recently revealed plans to build a powerful reusable rocket that would be able to carry up to 100 people to Mars per flight. He hopes to get the price of a ticket to below $200,000 (should be an interesting crew made up of the rich and famous). His goal is to establish a self-sustaining colony.

Which brings me back to my story. It’s about a slacker chef (one of his creations is Trailer Park Hash), Dixon Jenner, who is selected to be a member of the first permanent colony on Mars. A disaster befalls the colony and Dixon is the sole survivor. Fortunately, he is provided shelter by two Martians (yes, there’s life on Mars), Bleeker and Seepa. The light-hearted story is about the first human to live among Martians on the Red Planet.

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