According to this source, Nasa’s probe to Mars that was launched nine months ago was stocked with our literary visions of the red planet.
The compilation contains work by such giants of science fiction as Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Paul Anderson and Arthur C Clarke. But it also includes early classics such as H G Wells’s War of the Worlds, published in 1898, which set the template for an entire genre of malevolent invaders from the Red Planet. Accompanying images will include Flash Gordon film posters (complete with cardboard spaceship interiors), and cover artwork for Edgar Rice Burrough’s Martian tales which set a trend in the kind of pneumatic spacewomen (was it the effects of low gravity, we used to wonder) who adorned the covers of pulp sci-fi comics in the 1950s.
Makes you wonder the hell would you send back to Earth, then, to represent the state of the World as it is, or to sum up our visions of the place. I for one would slap DeLillo’s Underworld on the list for a start, since that contains a plethora of riffs on our lives.
I think it’d be a good idea to bury some current SF in a time capsule, see what the next couple of generations makes of what’s to come. Or maybe some dying earth books, such as Viriconium, or the Book of the New Sun sequence—for something that won’t be dug up for thousands of years, that is…