Ray Bradbury on Mars

 2008 10 Space-Special Descent-615

Science fiction pioneer Ray Bradbury, author of the Martian Chronicles, wrote the foreword to the recent special "space" issue of National Geographic. Bradbury wrote about Mars ('natch). From his essay:

In 1976 I was invited to stay overnight at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, waiting for news to come back from the Viking 1 lander, which was going to touch down on Mars and take photographs.

It was incredibly exciting to be there, surrounded by engineers, waiting for the first pictures. There was a tall gentleman standing next to me, who I thought looked familiar. At last I realized it was none other than Wernher von Braun, the man who had fled Germany for America to become the co-inventor of the rocket that took us to the moon and that was now taking us to the planets.

Early in the morning the photographs began to arrive. I could hardly believe I was seeing the surface of Mars! At 9:00 a.m., ABC television put me on the air to get my reaction.

The interviewer said, "Mr. Bradbury, how do you feel about this landing? Where are the Martian cities and where are all the living beings?"

"Don't be a fool," I said. "WE are the Martians! We're going to be here for the next million years. At long last, WE ARE MARTIANS!"

That was the end of the interview.

Ray Bradbury's "My Mars"