When Phoenix landed on Mars on May 25, arriving in the baggage was the Visions of Mars mini-DVD, containing the names of the members of the Planetary Society and a series of Mars images from U.S. comic strips, pulps, animation. Included is Windsor McCay’s Little Nemo, in a 1910 adventure featuring an airship ferrying Nemo and friends to Mars, and a poster from the 1936 Flash Gordon serial. Among the other artists represented are Chuck Jones (of Marvin the Martian fame), Ed Emshwiller, Chesley Bonestell, Frank Kelly Freas, Richard Powers, Michael Whelan, Don Dixon, Alex Schomburg, Vincent Di Fate and Frank R. Paul.
There’s also a library full of sf that takes place on Mars or features Martians, such as Wells’ War of the Worlds, and works by Brian Aldiss, Poul Anderson, Isaac Asimov, Greg Bear, J. G. Ballard, Greg Benford, Otto Binder, Ben Bova, Leigh Brackett, Ray Bradbury, Fredric Brown, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Arthur C. Clarke, Samuel Delany, August Derleth, Philip K. Dick, Harry Harrison, Fred Hoyle, Otis Adelbert Kline, Michael Moorcock, C L Moore, Larry Niven, H. Beam Piper, Fred Pohl, Kim Stanley Robinson, Carl Sagan, Theodore Sturgeon, A. E. Van Vogt, Kurt Vonnegut, Jack Williamson, Roger Zelazny, etc.
This was The Planetary Society’s second attempt to send Visions of Mars to its namesake planet. It was originally created by the Society to ride aboard Russia‘s Mars ’96 spacecraft, which failed shortly after launch.
I’ve read positively wistful comments from a few people whose names are etched on this souvenir of cosmic immortality. And who knows, maybe Marvin the Martian will be pleased to read the names of everyone responsible for introducing him to the greats of science fiction. Yet I can’t help remembering that when I received the DVD of Fellowship of the Ring, the credits including I don’t know how many charter members of the Official Lord of the Rings Fan Club, I let it run after the end of the movie for quite awhile and scanned the names for friends of mine, but that was not endlessly fascinating even though there were people I knew on the list. Who will Marvin the Martian know besides Chuck?
Still, if this kind of thing turns you on, don’t miss the June 27 deadline to get your name on the disk going aboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]