|1939 - art by Frank R. Paul|
In 2013 I was tempted to write a scientific novel about how Isaac Asimov became a time traveler. Sadly, Asimov's amazing journey back through time only existed as my fantasy (first described in some detail here). The basic idea was that in a previous Reality, Asimov bumped into some aliens who had advanced time travel technology at their disposal. For reasons of their own, those aliens took Asimov from the year 1947 back to 1939.
|canals, farms, roads and a city on Mars (by Wicks)|
Of course, the time traveling Asimov helped cause a Reality Change, bringing into existence what we can call the Asimov Reality. Just as Asimov was positioned to write "science fiction" stories about the future of the Foundation Reality, it eventually became possible for Jack Vance to write about events in the far future of the Asimov Reality.
|Click image to enlarge. (source)|
|early map of Mars by Giovanni Schiaparelli|
|canals of Mars by Mark Wicks|
In his 1911 review, Gernsback described To Mars via The Moon as a "scientific novel". From our perspective, more than a hundred years later, it is tempting to contradict Gernsback and instead describe To Mars via The Moon as an "anti-scientific novel".
Maybe I'd be willing to accept Gernsback's label of "scientific novel" except for the fact that the story is built around one of the most famously bad translation errors in the history of astronomy.
|modern map of Mars (click image to enlarge) source|
For me, reading To Mars via The Moon here in 2016 brought back painful memories of having the read The Martian Chronicles when I was in school. As a school boy, I'd previously discovered Asimov's science fiction and it was difficult for me to swallow the idea (advanced by my teacher) that Bradbury's "chronicles" were science fiction. To his credit, Bradbury admitted, "I don't write science fiction" and he correctly labeled The Martian Chronicles as fantasy.
To Mars via The Moon starts with the sort of anti-science "fantasy technological discovery" that is often found in pre-science fiction stories. With a few years of work in the barn, three men construct a spaceship that caries them off to Mars.
A successful science fiction story must embed its fictional future science in a plausible social context. To Mars via The Moon makes no attempt to do this: the spaceship simply appears by magic and off we go to Mars. Even worse, the spaceship is only used once and nobody ever builds another one.
I never very seriously thought of the Foundations of Eternity as a "scientific novel". However, the opportunity still exists to move in that direction since my next task is to alter the first part of the story so as to start with Asimov.
Next: a new mystery story about creating life
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