“Mars has become a kind of mythic arena onto which we have projected our Earthly hopes and fears.”
There’s a terrible sense of loneliness in Ray Bradbury’s Martian tales. The humans do not find comfort in this strange new land. No one is feeling completely at ease and really at home. The only times the colonizing humans thought they have found what they were truly looking for (a family, a home, a new beginning, a second chance), the reality revealed these hopes and dreams to be artificial. The families and homes were either created by their own minds, influenced by the Martians (April 2000: The Third Expedition), or by their own hands (April 2026: The Long Years). What they could not find on Earth, they certainly did not find on Mars.
The humans came on Mars bringing their flawed humanity and human ways with them, not caring about the consequences of their visit. Mars is just another empty field for them that must be filled with Earth things. “Anything that’s strange is no good to the average American. If it doesn’t have Chicago plumbing, it’s nonsense. The thought of that! Oh God, the thought of that!,” says Spender (June 2001: —And the Moon Be Still as Bright), one of the few Earth men who are thoughtful and intelligent enough to realize that humanity is lost, if it doesn’t change its ways.
And this is the essential idea that is finally comprehended and fully embraced by the last surviving human beings who come to Mars. In order for the human race to survive, it must change. It must leave behind its old mentalities and habits. It must ultimately become Martian.
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