Size / / /

There was a time not long ago when the solar system was full of life. Mars was a desert planet swept by sandstorms and crossed continuously by intelligent reptiles riding atop lizards the size of trucks. Venus was a boiling marsh covered by dense jungles where pterodactyls with gray skins and little green spots flew freely. Venusians had metallic skins, round heads with childlike dark eyes, and skulls crowned by small antennae to transmit Morse code, which buzzed from one point to another in electric arcs.

Marvin the Martian

A NASA mission patch. Even in the Space Age, whimsy endures.

Does it sound strange? It really should not, because man has always projected his fantasies onto the sky. It is not necessary to add that Mars was the god of war, and Venus, the pretty goddess of love, was his lover. The constellations were full of important beings for the cultures of the world. The sky was a blackboard on which the Polynesians, Nazcas, and Greeks drew turtles, spiders, and bulls, like that stellar bull called Taurus. And what about the Mayan myth of the "Rabbit of the Moon," who was left imprinted upside down on the lunar face after the god Rabbit was crushed in punishment for his cruelty, a fate the reader still can observe at full moon? Perhaps instead of a rabbit, Christian readers will see the Virgin and Child in the same lunar shade. That makes no difference because what really matters is that man has put in the sky his imagination and fantasy, populating the stars with gods and prodigies.

Up to the middle of the twentieth century, scientists all over the world believed Mars and Venus were teeming with life. They thought that the coloration of these planets varied with the seasons, with changes in the vegetation living on their surfaces. Such ideas not only appeared in popular science fiction novels, like A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs or Isaac Asimov's Lucky Starr series, but were also expounded by professional astronomers.

At the end of the nineteenth century, French astronomer Camille Flammarion wrote the book The Imaginary Worlds, in which he speculated on the type of life forms that would exist on the planets of the solar system and beyond, a book that would have great influence on the minds of its time. A U.S. contemporary of his, Percival Lowell, thought that Mars was fully crossed by a network of artificial channels, built by a toiling race that refused to perish with the climatic change that was drying out the planet.

However, reality demonstrated otherwise. The high temperatures and pressures of Venus, confirmed with the first missions of Venera I to the planet in 1961, showed a sterile world. Despite the consequent disillusionment, people continued to believe there was a chance of life on Mars. Nevertheless, after the landing of Viking I on Mars on July 20, 1976, the world was disappointed once again because experiments to verify the existence of life gave negative results.

Today we know that Mars has water, and scientists have not lost hope of finding at least viral life forms there. Perhaps it is difficult for them to forget that once the skies were full of life and that Mars had many animals and plants. With all these facts, let us ask ourselves: where is My Favorite Martian hiding?

Omar Vega is a Chilean computer engineer. Happily married and the father of three children, two of whom are Chileans and the other Canadian, he lives in Santiago de Chile and works in computers. He has published several articles in Spanish since the '80s, and he write SF tales as a hobby. He dreams of becoming a professional writer some day—hopefully during this life, and if he can convince an editor . . .
Current Issue
24 Jan 2022

Piece of my essence, accept my sorry.
Some people, right? We’ll fold you into sparrows, help you disappear—I’m so glad we found you alive
By: Katy Bond
By: Averi Kurth
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Katy Bond
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents the poetry of the 24 January issue.
Hope without action behind it is only a recipe for deeper heartache.
I love flash fiction for a lot of reasons. There’s the instant gratification of reading a complete work of fiction in just a few minutes. And there’s the way flash lends itself to playful, inventive experimentation with form, prose, style, voice, and subject. I also love the way a flash story can be honed and sharpened as everything extraneous is eliminated, and the way it can capture and convey the essence of something—an emotion, a world, a situation, a possibility, an idea, even a joke!—in brilliant brevity.
Wednesday: I am the Tiger by John Ajvide Lindqvist, translated by Marlaine Delargy 
Friday: The Tangleroot Palace Stories by Marjorie Liu 
Issue 17 Jan 2022
Issue 10 Jan 2022
Issue 3 Jan 2022
Strange Horizons
By: Antonio Funches
By: Lev Mirov
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 20 Dec 2021
By: Merie Kirby
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 13 Dec 2021
By: Freydís Moon
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 6 Dec 2021
By: C. S. E. Cooney
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: C. S. E. Cooney
Issue 29 Nov 2021
Issue 22 Nov 2021
Issue 15 Nov 2021
By: Madeline Grigg
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 8 Nov 2021
By: Allison Parrish
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Load More
%d bloggers like this: