Rock and roll, NASA! Hats off to you folks and this historic day. The rover is down and we’re exploring Mars! That fills me with happiness.
To celebrate we’re going to dedicate today’s post to my top 10 favorite uses of Mars in pop culture. You know, what the title to this post pretty much told you.
10. Total Recall
Yes i know there’s a new one out, no i haven’t seen it, but let’s face it, the old Schwarzenegger one was pretty damn fun. Based on the Philip K Dick story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, the reason the movie makes this list instead of the story is that in the story the protagonist never actually makes it to Mars.
9. MST3K Santa Claus Conquers The Martians
Let’s be clear. I am not suggested the 1964 film Santa Claus Conquers The Martians is good or even bland or even just bad. It is jaw droppingly terrible in every sense a movie can be horrible. Thus makes it perfect fodder for Mystery Science Theater 3000. Perhaps some of you don’t know of that show, but in the 90s there was this show where… ugm…. a guy and his robot friends watched really, really bad movies and sat heckling them the entire time. You were watching a bunch of wise asses make fun of a bad movie. And you know, it was awesome.
8.Acme Novelty Library #19 The Seeing Eye Dogs Of Mars
This is a graphic novel by Chris Ware. Ware is renowned for his moody, melancholy works and his story The Seeing Eye Dogs Of Mars fits the bill perfectly. The story functions as a tale written by his main character’s father, a mildly talented sci-fi writer who scored his one real success with a 1950s story The Seeing Eye Dogs Of Mars in which two couples are sent up to begin the colonization of Mars. Still with me? Look, it’s really good. Everything by Chris Ware is really depressing and really good.
7. John Carter Warlord Of Mars series by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Ok, i know, the recent movie was a total flop. But the old pulp series by Burroughs, the creator of Tarzan for heaven’s sake, deserves its place on this list. First written in 1911 it may not be as well known today, and Lord knows the movie hasn’t helped it (to be fair the movie was okay), but the influence of John Carter Warlord of Mars cannot be understated. Star Wars? Heard of it? Lucas sites the Burroughs books as inspiration. Avatar? Heard of it? (I personally hated that stupid movie, but damn did it look amazing) Once again, these books sited as major inspiration. Dune? Superman? (Yes, you heard me) That’s right, once again, the Warlord of Mars books sited as… you get the idea. Moment of respect.
6. Red Mars/Green Mars/Blue Mars (the Mars Trilogy) by Kim Stanley Robinson
There are many who claim this trilogy is the best hard science fiction novels of this generation. Unlike the adolescent fantasy of John Carter, this series if extremely intelligent, serious and painstakingly well researched. It takes the idea of colonizing Mars and thinks it through as realistically as possible, from technology to politics to people. That may seem pretty dry, but it’s really not. It’s a credit to the author’s talent and skill that he creates a trilogy which is captivating and believable. I have friends who will debate over these books for HOURS if you just keep the beer flowing.
5. War of the Worlds: Spielberg
You know what? This move kicked ass. It really did. I’m not saying it’s one of my all time favorites or anything, i’m just saying at the end of the day it kicked as. I was actually so freaked out by the damn aliens that i utterly forgot that i already knew how it was going to end. When the ending came i was suddenly shocked back to the fact that of course i knew that but i had forgotten because i those aliens were so freackin’ bad ass they had me clutching my seat. So i’m putting this movie on this list. There’s other Mars movies, but you know what? They’re not this good. That Val Kilmer one? You know it’s not as enjoyable as this.
4. The Extraordinary League of Gentlemen Vol #2
This graphic novel series also kicks ass, especially the first 2 volumes (out of 3 currently, but i know there’s a new one due out soon) and especially vol two which deals with Mars. Actually, it deals specifically with both War of the Worlds AND John Carter Warlord of Mars. Alan Moore, meta god of comics, took every possible sci fi character from victorian and edwardian fantastical fiction and built utterly awesome stories utilizing them. Really, this one is a must read.
3. War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells
Do i even need to bother writing an explanation for this? Published in its complete from in 1898 this is the book that started every single alien invasion story ever written. Yes. That is not an exaggeration. If this book had not been written someone would have invented alien invasions sooner or later i grant you, but HG Wells got there first and if i listed the influence of this book on pop culture we’d be here all feakin’ day how much time in a given day do you think i have to bang these posts? I’m scoring the damn show. I’m only on Annabelle’s Lament. I got work to do. Just trust me, this book is huge. Just… bow before it and let’s move along.
2. The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury
You might think i’m nuts ranking this book higher then War of the Worlds, you’d have a case, but you know what? The Martian Chronicles is deeper and greater. Bradbury’s signature work is in every single sci-fi best of all time list, and will probably be for the forseeable future because it’s really that good. Call it personal preference, but this book did a number on me when i first read it years ago and i can still recall the emotional impact.
Wells is great and all but there’s a reason this song was written about Bradbury:
1. Congratulations NASA. The number one pick on the countdown goes out to all of you.