2049 on Mars - Episode 1 Getting to know you
The beginning of interplanetary travel
I normally write family saga, historical fiction stories and this is no exception - except that it is also Science Fiction, set in 2049 not 1849 or so. Family sagas are about family relationships, like Dune and Star Wars. Family sagas are based on relationships among individuals, who also identify as families. Even in 2016, ‘family’ has come to mean much more than bloodline relationships to many, many people. This is the kind of family saga ‘2049 on Mars’ will be. 2049 is the 110th year following the birth of the author. Will he (I) still be alive then? Possibly, though unlikely. What will life be like then, 33 years in the future from when this is being written? It is really not that far away, so some aspects will be much as they are today.
Elon Musk, owner of the Tesla car company and the SpaceX space exploration company, sees a different future than most of us. He sees the colonization of Mars sooner rather than later. His vision includes sending a million people to Mars, in wave after wave, over many years, in order to create a sustainable population with sufficient productivity to survive over time. These stories are based on one possible extrapolation of his vision, as perceived in my mind, in the early years of that process. Other mind’s stories will vary, of course. I’ve been considering these stories for some time, but have been reluctant to ‘jump in.’ Now seems to be the time, with no pre-conditions. Let’s go see what Steve and Sharon are doing in 2049 - after one more paragraph of background information.
Musk was asked why people would voluntarily go off to Mars to spend the rest of their lives there. His simple explanation was that it was exactly the same decision our European ancestors made in the 16th and 17th centuries to cross the Atlantic ocean, likely to never see their families again, in the old world. They sold everything they had and made the commitment to ‘go there.’ These are people I’ve written about in recent years. Let’s move on into later in the 21st century and see what is actually happening - on the other side of this new ‘ocean’ - interplanetary space.
The Mars Federation population was growing
Steve and Sharon, now old timers, greet some newcomers to Pod WLS
Steve and Sharon meet Aledmys and Ariel as they exit the airlock from the corridor into residential Pod WLS. “Greetings!” They exchange handshakes all around. Even though each of them has a name emblazoned on their uniforms (along with a number under it), names are and pleasantries are exchanged as well. It is a part of Martian Federation protocol as well as common sense behavior when meeting a new person for the first time. Aledmys [Al-led-miss] and Ariel just arrived on Mars earlier in the day, so talk quickly turns to their trip and how they feel on arrival.
Aledmys: We were Flight 0627, as you see, and it went by routinely, of course.
Ariel: I see you were each Flight 0427 - what a coincidence! Or was it?
Sharon: Yes, it is just a coincidence, except that it is not coincidence for someone with four years experience here to be assigned as your mentors. We’ve got the experience that will be most valuable to you as you find your place in this ‘new world.’
Steve: As you know, our function in this relationship is to be available to answer any concerns you have as you work your way through your on-site orientation, and beyond. They pair us, male and female, so feel free to talk to either, or both of us, about anything that concerns you. Our protocol of talking things out, from the beginning, has been found to be very effective. I know this has been part of the training you have received in the past year, but it is important to reiterate it, here, now, so it is fresh in your mind.
Ariel: So you have been here four years, and you are still here. I guess that is progress.
Sharon: Yes, the two of us, and about 50,000 others now. I think we are well beyond an ‘experiment.’ Welcome to our world… your world now!
Since that first Flight 0001 back in Earth Year 2034, each person had been identified officially by their given name and a 7 digit numerical ‘surname’ - their Flight number followed by their ‘seat assignment’ number. Steve was ‘Steve0427067’ and Sharon was ‘Sharon0427068’ for the old-timers. The newcomers were likewise ‘Aledmys0627024’ and ‘Ariel0627054’ it was noted. In the more than fifteen years now since the first arrivals, flights of about 100 people arrived routinely fifty times a year, about once a week in Earth time. In contrast, cargo flights arrived nearly every day, following the six to seven month routine journey from Earth to Mars. Each ship unloaded it’s cargo and made the return trip to do it all over again. A continuing stream of certain supplies was still necessary to sustain the Mars Federation existence, though each year it becomes more and more self-sufficient.
Aledmys: I have to ask - was it also coincidence that the two of you had consecutive seat numbers when you came? I noticed your numbers.
Sharon: Good observation! No, that cost us an additional $10K - we are brother and sister, and we wanted to be together to support each other from the start. It has actually worked out quite well. We each individually qualified, and paid for our participation, but we did take advantage of that one option in our contract with the Mars Federation.
Mars is a desolate planet
Their opening conversation continued
Ariel: How did your parents feel about both of you coming here?
Steve: Actually, it was part of our life plan. Our parents were professors at the University of Arizona, and would have loved to do this, themselves. So, they raised us to do it. We never considered any other life, hard as that may be to imagine. What are your stories?
Aledmys: My father was a professional baseball player, born in Cuba. He grew up on risk taking and was very successful. I just followed in his footsteps. Mom has three other children who stayed close to home, so that seemed to work out.
Ariel: My parents moved from Israel to the USA as a young couple. They encouraged me to explore all of my interests. Though I am an only child, they are proud of me following my dream to be here. Aledmys and I were assigned here together, initially, based on our common background interests and likely work assignments. We’ve found the pairing process to be very useful.
Sharon: Very familiar stories, if I may say so. We are so happy to get to know you. Pod WLS is our residence unit consisting of about 50 people with about half male and half female. We are all single with no children, so we all have that in common. People come and people go, according to personal desires and choices, as well as because of work assignment changes.
Steve: You’ll find accommodations very similar to those you had during your pre-flight training. We order our weekly meals based on availability and personal preferences just as you did there. I assume you have become accustomed to that?
Aledmys: I have. It took some time, to realize the choices were limited. However, like everything else in committing to this life, we each know that some compromises are required. The extended pre-flight training prepared us. We each knew people in our early training days that were not able to complete it and make a flight. They just couldn’t handle it, I suppose.
Ariel: My Olympics training really helped me prepare. I was accustomed to following a prescribed routine in my life from an early day. This has just been an extension of that.
Sharon: The whole colonization of Mars has worked because of that planning, and the execution of the plan, with people dedicated to making the plan work. You should adapt to life here very well. By the way, our overall retention rate has continued to edge up, very slightly, nearly every year for the past ten Earth years. Speaking of the plan, it is time we each moved on to our next activity.
Note from the author
This story is purely a work of fiction, created from the mind of the author. I’ve read a few articles to get some background, but beyond that, the stories and people are figments of my imagination.
I always welcome comments and feedback to any of my writing. I look forward to that in this case, as well.