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Madman On Mars - Riffs and Licks
steelbrassnwood
steelbrassnwood
Madman On Mars
Ray Bradbury's thoroughly loopy column for the Journal today didn't exactly increase my ever-dwindling interest in manned spaceflight. But it does raise the question of whether Kim Jong Il is taking down all his pictures because he's planning a trip to Mars. Just imagine him and Ray, sailing the canals....

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bobhowe From: bobhowe Date: November 18th, 2004 02:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, that was enlightening.

I still hope for manned spaceflight to the rest of the solar system and beyond, but I don't think it will happen in my lifetime, if ever. I know, and respect, all the arguments for robotic spaceflight: scientifically it makes much more sense than astronaut spam. But it's harder to get excited about. Harder to imagine myself standing there, on the frigid sands of Mars, looking out at the pink horizon.

I don't know what to say about Bradbury.
shunn From: shunn Date: November 19th, 2004 02:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, Bradbury's essays these days are as hallucinogenic as his fiction. Or did he realize this was supposed to be a non-fiction assignment?

In his great rollcall of nations, how did he happen to overlook what are probably our most likely competitors in any theoretical space race: China and Brazil?
steelbrassnwood From: steelbrassnwood Date: November 19th, 2004 02:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
In his great rollcall of nations, how did he happen to overlook what are probably our most likely competitors in any theoretical space race: China and Brazil?
I'm sure it's hard for someone stranded in Green Town, Illinois, somewhere in the early 1950s, to imagine either of those countries as space powers.
shunn From: shunn Date: November 19th, 2004 03:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
That a sad address for a science fiction writer. I guess he's not the Jules Verne who's going to lead us back into space.
bobhowe From: bobhowe Date: November 19th, 2004 05:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
I hate to say it, but we're talking about a guy who probably needs someone to lead him to the front porch.

Anyway, I don't thing Bradbury was the kind of futurist that Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, or even Pournelle & Niven were. His work is much more poetic and impressionist.
shunn From: shunn Date: November 24th, 2004 11:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Exactly. Which (together with his obvious dementia) begs the question of why he is fit to write an editorial of this nature.
bobhowe From: bobhowe Date: November 25th, 2004 04:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes, exactly.

Next week, the Wall Street Journal taps Justin Timberlake for a 1,000-word first-person piece on performing neurosurgery.
shunn From: shunn Date: November 25th, 2004 07:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Naw, they'll get Robert Young to write that one. (Is he still alive? Nah, doesn't matter. Get him anyway!)
steelbrassnwood From: steelbrassnwood Date: November 25th, 2004 06:21 am (UTC) (Link)
To be fair, Bradbury is almost certainly the SF writer most identified with Mars by the general public, and one of the few surviving first-generation marquee names (aside from Arthur C. Clarke, I can't think of another). That, combined with his cranky right-wing comments following the release of Fahrenheit 9/11, made him an ideal catch for the edit page. (I'm also not sure if, having solicited a column from Ray Bradbury, the average op-ed editor would then have the guts to reject it.)
shunn From: shunn Date: November 25th, 2004 07:30 am (UTC) (Link)
To be fair, Bradbury is almost certainly the SF writer most identified with Mars by the general public

Of course he is. It's obvious why they picked him. But if they actually knew anything about his work, they couldn't have been surprised that he wouldn't have anything useful to say about space travel in the real world. Kudos to Bradbury, though, for having achieved a status where he has the opportunity to be an unintelligible crank.
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