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When Martians Become Medieval

Back when Percival Lowell was first mapping out canals on Mars, whether life existed there was unknown. Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jules Verne, and C.S. Lewis, among many others, imagined what life might be like on Mars, having little more to go on than Lowell’s maps.

By the time the Viking landers arrived on Mars in the 1970s, we were certain that there was no intelligent life on Mars. Carl Sagan, in his TV series Cosmos, noted that someday we might colonize the red planet, and then “The Martians will be us.”

In Medieval Mars: A Novella, Travis Perry envisions a future in which Mars has been settled by people from Earth—and afterward suffered a societal and technological collapse, throwing the planet into a Martian Dark Ages.

In a blog post last year, Travis invited other writers to play in his red sandbox. One line in particular caught my attention:

Flying machines like zeppelins with sails as per some steampunk tales is a real technological possibility on the Mars I’ve made.—Travis Perry

He got me with the steampunk zeppelin. Although “steampunk” is a stretch, since steam power isn’t available at the medieval technology level. Nevertheless, Travis helped me design an airship, and “Flight,” my novella about that ship and its crew, is one of the stories in the Medieval Mars anthology, which will launch July 12.

In addition to Travis’s original novella and mine, the book also contains stories by Adam David Collings, Jill Domschot, Kat Heckenbach, Cindy Koepp, Donna Gielow McFarland, Allison Rohan, and Mark Venturini.

I hope you’ll enjoy our varied adventures. They take place all over Mars, with very little overlap, showing the myriad subcultures that can emerge in different places. One of the keys for me—and I’m sure this is true for others also—was getting the geography right.

The tool for that turned out to be the Google Earth app, which is still called that even when you change the setting to Mars. (It seems this feature is only available in the desktop app.) You can add overlays to show elevation (very handy when writing about an airship) and even Lowell’s old canal maps.

My story takes place near the shore of the Melas Sea. In reality, it's a chasam, but in Travis Perry's terraformed Mars, the blue parts of this map are ocean.

My story takes place in the Valles Marineris, near the shore of the Melas Sea. In reality, it’s a chasm, but in Travis Perry’s terraformed Mars, the blue parts of this map are ocean.

Travis has hinted at the possibility of an additional Mars anthology in the future, but he has a few other places in his Terraformed Interplanetary series to take us first: how do Victorian Venus and Evil Eden Earth sound?

Another shared-world project Travis has already proposed is the fantasy storyworld of Spheres, which he mentioned on his blog last fall.

Spheres will feature a world that is Earthlike in most respects, orbiting a sun like ours. But nearby this planet will be a number of other planets…All of these will be enveloped in an massive over-atmosphere of oxygen that all the worlds swim in, allowing travel between them by extremely hardy flying birds…and would allow special sailing ships between the worlds to chart the distance between the planets from the winds that flow between them.—Travis Perry

I’ve enjoyed exploring Mars with Travis and these other writers. I hope you will, too, and if you’re a writer, I hope you’ll consider joining us for future adventures.


Kindle edition available here.

Print edition available here.

Travis also plans to have copies in the Realm Makers bookstore.

About Kristen Stieffel

Kristen Stieffel is a writer and freelance editor specializing in speculative fiction. She's a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, Christian Editor Connection, and American Christian Fiction Writers.

One comment on “When Martians Become Medieval

  1. I’m really looking forward to reading everybody’s stories.

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