Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

The Mars Society...more than a few real-life scientists, military men, and astronauts.

Having discovered such a thing as the Mars Society in San Diego and its Friday night events calendar, my column was clear. In a way. It will certainly sound odd to say that I have many associations with Mars, I suppose, but not terribly when you ask around certain guys my age -- and no few women. It is mostly a guy thing though, I suspect (or "a boy thing" as one editor phrased it). Having visited the society in Golden Hill at the Arts Union Building at 2323 Broadway, I can tell you a little about them, but I can't pretend to know much. At any rate it would be greater fun, if you're so inclined, to find out more on your own, and I will feel free to indulge in some of my associations with the red planet. My first memory of Mars involves me in the 1950s in a low-income veteran's housing development tract in Bensenville, Illinois. I am wearing a snowsuit, and I can still hear the swish, swish of the syntho-thermal fiber environmental E.V.A. suit as my thighs, rendered even more chubby by the suit, abrade against each other during my trek across the frozen colonial settlement in the meteor crater designated FUTURE SITE of PIGGLY WIGGLY FOODS. Banished from the family Modapt unit on the unpaved Grace Street, #411, as my mother was experiencing planetary orientation sickness that would continue through decades of exile among the Markons, I extended my tongue to an icy telephone pole to taste my new home and brought it away bloody. Through freezing tears, I attempted re-entry through the airlock and was turned away to face predatory hordes of invisible aliens. My survival that first day of planet fall is chronicled in the mission log by a drawing entitled "Me in marz."

As a boy I somehow missed the novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs and the adventures of John Carter, though I would have surely loved them. At an early enough age I did discover H.G. Wells and War of the Worlds and about that time also encountered the bubble gum with the trading card series "Mars Attacks" (much later a movie by Tim Burton) with its depiction of Martians roasting herds of cattle with their heat rays; between them I was appropriately horrified. In a recent re-reading of the Wells, I was stunned at his ability to envision mass destruction on such a scale years before the First World War.

A movie called Marooned, in the late '60s or so, also left an indelible mark on not only myself, but, I discovered via Gerry William of the Mars Society this past Friday, more than a few real-life scientists, military men, and astronauts.

Later there was, of course, Robert A. Heinlein that great libertarian crank but also, like Kipling, a peerless storyteller for boys (and Tomboys, i.e. Podkayne of Mars). Later, when I came to California, I realized that science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, in novels like Martian Time Slip was not so much inventing a fictional Mars in his stories but describing a fairly naturalistic Los Angeles in the 1950s, not greatly different from my Bensenville.

Breathing figurative life into the Martian landscape is still very much the province of SF writers these days. Most notably we have former San Diegan Kim Stanley Robinson with his novels Red Mars, Blue Mars and Green Mars. These books are scientifically rigorous and literarily have nothing whatever to apologize for. Another San Diegan, physicist and fictioneer Gregory Benford regularly weighs in with work about Mars rich with hard science. There are several others in the field (Arthur C. Clarke, Ben Bova, etc.), but most real news about this neighbor and most Earth-like of planets is from NASA these days. We'll be getting stuff from Pluto soon, but the focus of the space program is likely to remain Mars oriented for a good time to come.

The Mars Society, by the way, has a functioning replica of the Mars Rover you may be allowed to play with. It is, I believe, the only one extant. The Friday night I chose to drop in was movie night, featuring Randy Quaid in 1990's Martians Go Home, a truly awful comedy (with moments) based on the short novel (from, I think, the 1950s) by Fredrick Brown. I remember the novel being funnier. The movie version has Earth invaded by green stand-up comics from the red planet, somehow summoned by Quaid who scores music for TV. While ripping off the five-note theme from Close Encounters of the Third Kind for some science fiction TV show, the Martians arrive and batter the world with shtick. Truly a film to rival Queen of Outer Space.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Unemployment leads to Ocean Beach baking

The bread man

Having discovered such a thing as the Mars Society in San Diego and its Friday night events calendar, my column was clear. In a way. It will certainly sound odd to say that I have many associations with Mars, I suppose, but not terribly when you ask around certain guys my age -- and no few women. It is mostly a guy thing though, I suspect (or "a boy thing" as one editor phrased it). Having visited the society in Golden Hill at the Arts Union Building at 2323 Broadway, I can tell you a little about them, but I can't pretend to know much. At any rate it would be greater fun, if you're so inclined, to find out more on your own, and I will feel free to indulge in some of my associations with the red planet. My first memory of Mars involves me in the 1950s in a low-income veteran's housing development tract in Bensenville, Illinois. I am wearing a snowsuit, and I can still hear the swish, swish of the syntho-thermal fiber environmental E.V.A. suit as my thighs, rendered even more chubby by the suit, abrade against each other during my trek across the frozen colonial settlement in the meteor crater designated FUTURE SITE of PIGGLY WIGGLY FOODS. Banished from the family Modapt unit on the unpaved Grace Street, #411, as my mother was experiencing planetary orientation sickness that would continue through decades of exile among the Markons, I extended my tongue to an icy telephone pole to taste my new home and brought it away bloody. Through freezing tears, I attempted re-entry through the airlock and was turned away to face predatory hordes of invisible aliens. My survival that first day of planet fall is chronicled in the mission log by a drawing entitled "Me in marz."

As a boy I somehow missed the novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs and the adventures of John Carter, though I would have surely loved them. At an early enough age I did discover H.G. Wells and War of the Worlds and about that time also encountered the bubble gum with the trading card series "Mars Attacks" (much later a movie by Tim Burton) with its depiction of Martians roasting herds of cattle with their heat rays; between them I was appropriately horrified. In a recent re-reading of the Wells, I was stunned at his ability to envision mass destruction on such a scale years before the First World War.

A movie called Marooned, in the late '60s or so, also left an indelible mark on not only myself, but, I discovered via Gerry William of the Mars Society this past Friday, more than a few real-life scientists, military men, and astronauts.

Later there was, of course, Robert A. Heinlein that great libertarian crank but also, like Kipling, a peerless storyteller for boys (and Tomboys, i.e. Podkayne of Mars). Later, when I came to California, I realized that science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, in novels like Martian Time Slip was not so much inventing a fictional Mars in his stories but describing a fairly naturalistic Los Angeles in the 1950s, not greatly different from my Bensenville.

Breathing figurative life into the Martian landscape is still very much the province of SF writers these days. Most notably we have former San Diegan Kim Stanley Robinson with his novels Red Mars, Blue Mars and Green Mars. These books are scientifically rigorous and literarily have nothing whatever to apologize for. Another San Diegan, physicist and fictioneer Gregory Benford regularly weighs in with work about Mars rich with hard science. There are several others in the field (Arthur C. Clarke, Ben Bova, etc.), but most real news about this neighbor and most Earth-like of planets is from NASA these days. We'll be getting stuff from Pluto soon, but the focus of the space program is likely to remain Mars oriented for a good time to come.

The Mars Society, by the way, has a functioning replica of the Mars Rover you may be allowed to play with. It is, I believe, the only one extant. The Friday night I chose to drop in was movie night, featuring Randy Quaid in 1990's Martians Go Home, a truly awful comedy (with moments) based on the short novel (from, I think, the 1950s) by Fredrick Brown. I remember the novel being funnier. The movie version has Earth invaded by green stand-up comics from the red planet, somehow summoned by Quaid who scores music for TV. While ripping off the five-note theme from Close Encounters of the Third Kind for some science fiction TV show, the Martians arrive and batter the world with shtick. Truly a film to rival Queen of Outer Space.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

The Red, White, and Blue can never tell a lie: San Diego was the place to be for the Fourth of July!

America’s Finest County
Next Article

San Diego Lotharios rejoice at news of mandatory 10 pm nightlife shutdown

Closed Doors = Closed Deals
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close