Sunday, November 13, 2011

Invading Mars

The first thing that strikes any Earthling visiting Mars for the first time is that Mars is old. The seas and lush vegetation of its youth have given way to anemic canals and barren rock and sand. Many of its canal cities are more ancient than Sumer--and even these are young compared to the ruins that dot the dust-choked wastes.

The Great Powers of Earth came to Mars hoping steal knowledge and wealth from the dying world. It was the first planet to be conquered with the arrival of the Age of Space and with good reason. The 1898 invasion that had nearly ended the human race had come from the red planet, after all. When man mastered the psychic technologies of the Invaders, it was only natural to want to strike back.

The Invaders weren’t actually from Mars, of course. That had only been a staging point. But the old canal cities of the true Martians had been waystations for space travelers in the past, and they still held ancient secrets. In the arid wastes there were underground complexes, the abandoned redoubts of ancient Martian civilization, constructed when they burrowed in to survive their world growing inhospitable. These subterranean ruins contain treasures both magical and mundane.

Treasure-hunters, thieves, and spies flock to the colonial cities. The British and French have governmental presences and peacekeeping forces. The Americans are represented by soldiers of fortune and freewheeling traders. The Russians are divided between White Russian spies, dreaming of a czarist resurgence, and Communist agitators, looking to make Mars more Red. German agents of the Nazi Ahnenerbe or the more shadowy Vril Society search out secrets for their mysterious “Aryan” masters in Agartha.

The Martians themselves tolerate these new invaders like all the others over the millennia. The canal and Lowland dwellers are generally solicitous and eager for Earth coin--though there are occasional small scale uprisings, and always there are rumors of murderous cults that wish to purge Mars of alien influences. The grim highlanders, however, seldom recognize colonial authority. They act as bandits and are often organized around fanatical ghazaerai monks.


scottsz said...

Cool stuff.

It's great that Mars still inspires so much in gaming via pulp fantasy.

I can't help but think it must have been awe inspiring and terrifying to look into a telescope so long ago, see the traces of 'canals', and believe that there was someone else living on that far away, rusty globe.

Aos said...

Cool stuff.
It reminds me of Leigh Bracket's Mars, which is possible my favorite pulp Mars (outside of the first ERB book, anwyay).
As an aside "Black Amazon of Mars" is available for free on the kindle at Amazon. It is is a great pulp story, which really fits the mood of this post.

Xyanthon said...

Very nice Trey. I've been reading the ERB Barsoom stuff and itching for some gaming stuff in that direction.

ze bulette said...

Already started on that second book eh? Good to see things can still take root on Mars! ;)

Trey said...

@scottsz - I mixture of fear and excitement, perhaps?

@Aos - Brackett (along with Moore) were certainly one of the big influences here. Good to know about the Kindle book.

Johnathan - Thanks!

@ze bulette - The imagination begins to wander after a while. :)

Needles said...

This is awesome! Very nice to see!

christian said...

I love the line, "make Mars more red." I also like the occupied China feel. Perhaps the martians could stage their own boxer rebellion.

migellito said...

I really like it Trey! I immediately thought of Reilly: Ace of Spies

Trey said...

@Needles - Thanks.

@Christian - Exactly! And what sort of extraterrestrial martial arts will the Martians use? ;)

@Migellito - Thanks! Yeah, thanks perfect.