Novel progress report, History of Mars

I’m working on my (hopefully) debut novel, about a troubled space cop named Dangerous Dan right now, about 1/10th of the way through. It is a space adventure, inspired, of course, by Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, and the Great Prophet himself, Vonnegut. Obviously I don’t claim to be 1/10th as good as they, but we can dream.

This is a short selection. I’m still introducing the main characters and their environments.

Here I’m describing how the Martian colony came to be what it is. Enjoy!

The human race discovered that it was the only sentient form of life in its solar system at about the same time as the first aliens came around to politely mug us. Human scope took a great leap then. At one moment, humans were warring bitterly against each other over Earth resources, and the next they were hugging each other in mortal fear and fighting as one.

We have now adopted the much more civilized practice of financially ruining one another rather than the barbarian practice of hacking each other to bits. Some call it progress. Some say it is better to be dead than ruined. Only the ruined say the latter, though, and they’re famously maudlin.

In the course of repelling the first wave of muggers, Earth scientists captured and reverse engineered every piece of alien tech it possibly could. By war’s end, humans found themselves able to travel the heavens with relative ease, which led to manned exploration of the solar system. This, in turn, led to colonization attempts on anything that had a solid surface to stand on, and a few new kinds of celebrities.

Some planets had supported colonization very well. Others not so much. The colonists were nothing if not enterprising, however, seeing each and every planet as a giant ball of resources just waiting to be mined.

Of the colonized planets, Mars was the most heavily populated. It had a surface that one could stand on, a little water, and wasn’t too cold. Miners had flocked to it hoping to discover untold riches in gold or diamonds, but had limited success. What gold they found was barely valuable enough to pay for the process of mining it and shipping it off world. In short, Mars was exactly what it appeared to be from above: a giant ball of rust.

Not willing to give up so easily, the wealthy Earth businessmen who backed the colonies bought heaps of advertising and a fleet of lobbyists on Earth to tell the story of the first planetary gold rush. Books were written. Blockbuster movies were made. The tourism trade flourished, generating many thousands of times more money than any mining operation. Profits soared, weighed down only by the cost of the mining that the tourists had come to see and take part in in the first place.

As a result, the miners became adventure travel guides. They began to be paid not on the value of the minerals they mined, but on how miner-ish they looked. Geologists and engineers were fired, and hard men with lantern jaws were hired in their places. This was fortunate, as mining crews occasionally fought over the most scenic travel spots, and engineers are quite useless in a scuffle.

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