Back in April, I sold a story to Redstone Science Fiction and it’s now already up and ready to be read. It’s about “sooners” who illegally settle on Mars while terraforming is still only half-finished — or, as a friend of mine succinctly put it: Oregon Trail on Mars.
I’m no good at inventing environments out of whole cloth, so I usually set my stories on Earth (or places that look a lot like it). But I reasoned that if humans were terraforming Mars, they’d likely use familiar ecosystems as their templates. This story draws inspiration from the cold steppes, alpine tundras, and high deserts of our own planet when describing the flora and fauna of a developing Mars.
I’m the rare science-fiction writer who never wanted to be an astronaut as a kid. (A traumatic scene about a lunar disaster from the beginning of Superman II had a lot to do with that.) But it seems to me that living on a half-terraformed planet would be almost like living in an eternal spring: new plants and animals would always be appearing as conditions gradually became more favorable to life. Every year, there would be new surprises.
I don’t know that I’d ever actually sign up to live on a planet like that — I’m no longer afraid of General Zod, but I’m still not keen on space travel. But if any of you end up terraforming Mars someday, I’ll certainly look at all the postcards.