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The Martian Cat

by Guy Lane


The Martian Cat

by Guy Lane


Copyright © 2017 Guy Lane

All rights reserved.


Titles by Guy Lane.


Eearth

Aquaria

Yongala

Intervene

The Moogh

The Oil Price

Heart of Bone

The Martian Cat

Love in the Age of Bitcoin


www.guylane.com



Charlie Darling is my name.
Inter-Planet, my employment.

Mars Resort is my working place.
Outfoxing you, my enjoyment.

Author’s note

I have never been to Mars and I dare say that I probably never will. After writing this book, I doubt that they’d let me through customs. But that’s okay, because I don’t want to go to the stupid planet, anyway. I wrote this book because I don’t want anyone else to go there, either – not for at least a hundred years, maybe a thousand years, maybe a million years. It’s not because I’m misanthropic and want to spoil people’s fun; it’s because the manned trips to Planet Mars will impose a massive cost on everyone, just when we need to be focusing our energy elsewhere: on the rehabilitation of Planet Earth.

Manned missions to Mars will create unprecedented environmental harm, misallocate vital human capital, and waste trillions of dollars of public money – your money and mine. The Mars colony will create great wealth for a handful of corporations, and this will justify them to lie, bribe and corrupt to protect their racket.

The biggest lie that will be perpetrated is that there is another home for humans in this solar system. That’s just not true. Humans are Earthlings. Don’t forget that title – ‘Earth’-ling. We evolved in 1-G gravity. It is our birthright to live in 1-G gravity.

Pro-Mars aficionados will likely bitch and moan about this book. They’ll say nasty things on social media, and I might even get death threats. That’s to be expected, because anyone who stands against a paradigm gets that sort of treatment. It’s just part of the game, I guess.

To my detractors, I say the following: if the manned mission to Mars is such a great idea, and has ‘real’ public support, then a satirical novel like this one is not going to make a lickety-split of difference; this book will be set aside as a the ravings of an angry crank, and you’ll get your stupid Mars colony. However, if I am correct, and the manned mission to Mars is shown to be most stupid of ideas, and has very little broad-scale public support (outside of sci-fi enthusiasts and respondents to scammy questionnaires); then a novel like this might have a substantive impact in killing the idea off. If that’s the case, I’m glad to have been of service to humanity; and you Mars folk had it all wrong, so admit defeat with humility.

The Martian Cat is satirical science fiction story. It is filled to the brim with information about Mars, about space technology, the environmental impacts on Earth of space activity, and the physiological impacts of humans in the portable-lavatory sized dwellings they’d be reduced to occupying on the runt-planet.

Some of the information in this book is reasonably accurate. For example, I describe a Mars rocket as having a three-stage core fuelled with kerosene and liquid oxygen, and four solid fuel boosters. That kind-of checks out. But the reference to them swapping the kerosene with leaded petrol if the price is right; that’s satire, I made that up.

I don’t underline the fictional bits in this story, nor do I write it in a different font. Instead, I mix the truth with the fiction – like they mix monomethyl hydrazine with the nitrogen tetroxide in the hypergolic rocket fuel.

This mixing of fact and fiction is not without precedent. The Marsophile (Mars lovers) do it all the time; they obfuscate the truth, like good Pro-Mars-Propagandists. As an example, the Matt Damon movie The Martian is roundly applauded for its ‘accuracy’ almost like it were a documentary; despite the glaring errors shared by all Mars movies. The Martian movie completely fails to acknowledge that on Mars, the gravity is so light, that you can’t walk or move the way you do on Earth. They also ignore that Mars is dimly lit, because it so far out in space. So we are left with the impression that Mars is like the Simpson desert – bright and 1-G gravity – when in fact, it is more like the Moon at dusk. They pump this misinformation out, and we swallow their stupid Mars story without thinking. We just gulp it down like a hungry Martian Cat devouring a bowl of fresh maggots.

Well, so it goes with The Martian Cat – the novel. I mix the truth with the lies, too. The maggots with the algae. The plutonium with the drinking water. The kerosene with the liquid oxygen. The toe-jam with the spacesuit.

If you want to know the truth about Mars, don’t listen to the pro-Mars camp, and certainly don’t listen to me. Instead, engage your critical mind, read, learn and think it through. If you do that, you’ll be able to discern the truth, and I am sure that you’ll end up on my side, slinging mud at the rockets, and blowing raspberries at the wannabe Mars Colonists.

Throughout this novel is the reference to a cat, the Martian Cat. For cat-lovers, this story might not be for you; the poor moggie is in a terrible state, everyone wants to eat it, and progressively bits of it fall off. It’s got no teeth, and its fur comes falls out in sticky clumps at every misadventure. In writing about the Martian Cat, I am not condoning animal abuse; I like cats, particularly Burmese cats. Instead, the Martian Cat is a metaphor for Planet Earth, pulled to pieces by the uncaring humans. And that’s what this story is ultimately about, it’s a commentary about ecological sustainability – or the dire absence of it.

Besides the fact that going to Mars is helping to kill off the living systems of planet Earth, we humans simply don’t deserve to go to Mars. We may have the technology and the will, but we don’t have the temperament. As a species, we f**k everything up, when we ought to know better. And while you can’t f**k-up a dead planet, you can make a right mess of a living one, trying to get there. We will wreck enormous damage on Earth – environmentally, economically, socially, and spiritually – in our mad scramble for the dead planet. And the worse Earth gets, the more alluring Mars will be made to sound by the propagandists, thus creating a nasty positive-feedback mechanism.

Today, humanity is on a path to extinction due to climate change and the loss of biosphere integrity – not to mention the spent fuel ponds of hundreds of nuclear power stations that will start to fall apart up as soon as there is no modern industrial state to maintain them. We need to fix the mess that we have left on Earth, before we go gallivanting off to space. This is a species-level discipline that we need to learn. And we need to learn it fast.

If we can stabilise our bleeding planet, and bring her back to health, then maybe by mid-next century, we will have developed a more balanced and mature outlook on the role of humans in the solar system. Maybe in a hundred years, if we can get our shit together, the manned mission to Mars might not be such a bad idea. Until then, the idea of a Mars colony is stupid, deluded and dangerous, and it needs to be opposed at every opportunity. I’ve given you some tools. Get to work.


Guy Lane

18 March 2017


Chapter 1 - Pouring Down

Heavy rain pummels the taxi that pulls up outside the hotel, its tail-lights making the raindrops glow red. The wipers swat water from the windscreen with the rasping noise of metal against glass.

Standing under the hotel awning, wearing a blue jumpsuit and holding a travel bag, is a young man, Charlie Darling. Both the jumpsuit and the bag are branded with the logo of Inter-Planet, the Mars tourism company.

Charlie shakes his head, wearily, wondering why taxi drivers always park so far away, when it rains. “What is it with the damned cabbies on this planet?” he grumbles, as he psyches himself to get wet.

He raises the Inter-Planet bag over his head, and dashes into the cold rain. As quick as he can, he jumps inside the back seat of the cab, slamming the door shut behind him. He takes stock of how much water his blue Inter-Planet jumpsuit has taken – he’s half-drenched.

A normal person would be cranky at having had to dash so far in the rain; but not our hero, Charlie Darling; he is one chillaxed dude. He has boyish looks and long, wavy, black hair, that is now plastered over his face from the deluge.

Charlie Darling is not the sort of person who stands out from the crowd, but neither is he someone you’d easily forget, should you meet him. He has an affable manner, and always has something nice to say, even when he is talking to a complete asshole, or placed in a challenging situation.

Hypothetically, were Charlie to be set upon by a bad hombre (one who dug a tunnel under the wall, maybe) and was then tied up, and dropped into vat of Martian Cat shit, he’d find a positive angle. He’d say something chirpy like, “Oh, well, at least it’s still warm” or “I’m glad it’s not bubonic acid” or “Maybe the next vat has champagne in it.” Charlie’s demeanour is so cheery that it can actually be a bit annoying, sometimes.

He’s also quite bright, and he likes to share his knowledge, so a lot of people think he’s a smart-ass, when in fact, he’s just being chatty. In these respects, Charlie Darling is the exact opposite of the surly, old cab driver.

“Damn rain!” the cabbie curses, peering up through the windscreen as if he were bright enough to determine anything more than that it is still raining.

“I’m savouring it,” Charlie wipes his face, and licks the rain water from his palm.

The driver adjusts the mirror to see his passenger. “Huh?”

“Where I’m going there’s no rain. Not a solitary drop.”

“What are you, a coal miner?” the driver flicks on the indicator, and checks for oncoming traffic.

“Do I really look like a coal miner?”

The cabbie glances at the rear vision mirror to see Charlie’s jumpsuit and clean shaven face. He sniffs the air. “You don’t smell like a coal miner. What is that? Perfume?”

“It’s cologne, you brute. I’m going to the Inter-Planet Spaceport.”

“Never heard of it.”

“Inter-Planet Spaceport, Terminal 12.”

“Domestic or international?”

“Just drive ahead, dude. I’ll tell you when to turn.”

The driver winds down his window, checks the traffic, then pulls away from the kerb. He winds up the window, his face and shoulder drenched. Then he starts moaning, “F**k me! If the planet’s getting hotter, what’s with the freezing rain?”

“It’s the jet stream,” Charlie tells him, knowingly.

“You what?”

“The jet stream’s amplitude is very high right now.”

“That don’t mean nothing,” the cabbie grumbles, dismissively.

Charlie chuckles, “That’s a double negative.”

Through the rear vision mirror, the driver looks Charlie over. He sees the Inter-Planet logo on his jumpsuit. “So, what do you do, mate?”

“Take a guess.”

“You’re a weatherman. Yeah, I’ve seen you on the TV.”

Nahh,” Charlie shakes his head, smiling.

“Give us a clue, then.”

“Alright, then. You are taking me to the Inter-Planet Space Port. Does that help you?”

“Yeah, I know it. You’re an Moon Jockey. An astronaut.”

“I’m a Martianaut.”

“A Martianaut?” the cabbie sneers. “That’s not an astronaut. That’s a f**king tourist.” His fist clenches on the steering wheel and a muscle twitches on his face. He starts to mutter, flicking his eyes angrily between the road and the reflection of Charlie in the mirror. “Well, ain’t that just something? I got a fricking Martian in my car.”


Shortly.


The taxi halts at the security gate of the Inter-Planet Spaceport, and a guard approaches. He’s big, burly fellow who looks like he is permanently angry. He wears black body armour strapped with lethal and ‘non-lethal’ weapons. And he carries an Inter-Planet umbrella to protect him from the rain.

“Geeze that guy is scary,” the cab driver says.

Charlie eyes the guard with mistrust. He grits his teeth, trying to hold back his reaction. “Show that to him,” Charlie hands the cabbie an ID card.

The cabbie opens the window and passes the card to the guard. The guard checks the card and then peers into the cab. “You going to Mars?”

“Yeah,” Charlie replies, tersely.

“You got any pets in there?” The guard asks, gruffly. “Any Piglets, Parrots, Pugs, Pussy-cats, Poodles or Pangolins?”

“No.”

“Open the boot,” the security guard demands.

The cab-driver complies by pulling a lever next to his seat. “Geez, those guys are scary,” he says again. He looks at Charlie in the mirror. “Say, Martian?”

The boot slams shut and the Security Guard passes Charlie’s ID card to the driver. He bangs twice on the roof, and the cabbie drives the car forwards. He flicks his eyes to the reflection of Charlie in the rear vision mirror again. “Say Martian? You know what I hear?”

Charlie leans forward and retrieves this card from the driver. He looks through the wipers swatting the rain. Ahead, there are illuminated terminal signs.

“We’re going to Terminal 12.”

“Yeah, yeah. I get that. Hey, Martian?”

“What?”

“I hear that all them giant rockets flying to the Moon and Mars is what’s causing this f**ked-up weather.”

“Oh, really? How would that work?”

“What?”

“How would the space launches contribute to the weather?”

“How would I know? Look at me. I drive a cab.”

“That’s Terminal Ten, slow down.”

Driver implores an answer through the mirror. “You’d know all about it, though, wouldn’t you?”

“I do. But do you really want to know.”

“Sure, I do.”

Charlie leans forward and confides, “The rocket boosters use a propellant based on synthetic rubber, and the exhaust is rich in soot. They dump thousands of tonnes of this soot into the stratosphere, where it has a very long residence time, because it’s so dry up there. The soot has a massive global warming potential, so the rockets are heating the atmosphere. That’s driving climate change, and increasing the variability of the jet stream, which is leading to this freak weather.”

“Speak English, brother,” driver snaps.

“You asked me and I’m telling you the answer.”

“Well, I don’t speak rocket talk.”

“Plus there is the destruction of stratospheric ozone.”

The driver waves a hand, sneering, “Yeah, whatever. You don’t know either.”

“And the combustion products associated with the second and third stages, fairings and inter-bodies burning up on re-entry, raining out over the polar regions, and ending up in the food chain of the polar bears and penguins. So there’s that, too. There’s Terminal Eleven.”


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