“We earth men have a talent for ruining big, beautiful things.”
― Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles
Hot Rod On Mars
After a hundred years of terraforming the air on Mars was finally breathable. The colonists had developed their own culture – often seen as odd and ridiculous from the point of view of their friends and relatives left on earth.
One of the most inexplicable cultural oddities was the popularity of hot rods on the red planet. All kinds of replica American muscle cars from the fifties, sixties, and seventies became the ride of choice across Mars.
Craig was very proud of his replica 1970 Dodge Challenger. I was white, like the car in the ancient film, Vanishing Point – one of the few classics that survived the great purge. Craig couldn’t resist though, and had a garish red and blue lightning bolt painted on the room.
But Craig’s testosterone was more powerful than his driving skills – plus he never understood that late-20th century muscle cars were designed for pavement and were dangerous and unstable on cross-country jaunts. The designers never intended their cars to be driven across the rocky plains of Mars.
It was inevitable that he would find a steep ditch and plunge the front end down into the gap, bury it in the dust that filled and hid the furrow. Craig climbed up onto the elevated back end to get a bit better satellite cell reception and decided to stay there as he waited for the star-shaped tow drone to fly to where he was. It was going to be an expensive accident… Maybe he would learn from this.
“It is never too late to be wise.” ― Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe
Let’s see, the movie came out in 1964… but I would have seen it on an Army base (which one? probably Fort Leavenworth) which are second-run theaters (back then, a movie cost a quarter) so I would have seen it a year or two later. I would have been eight or nine years old. And yet I remember it like it was yesterday.
Robinson Crusoe on Mars is streaming on the Criterion Channel and I had nothing better to do, apparently, than to waste a precious afternoon of perfect weather re-watching it… after all these decades.
Despite the bilious title, it isn’t a bad movie at all. Adam West has a small, pre-Batman, part (spoiler – he dies near the beginning). The special effects are economical but practical, the flying saucers cool looking (they look like the aliens from the original War of the Worlds– which was made a decade earlier).
I remember thinking that they looked the same in 1966 or whenever. War of the Worlds was on TV and had made quite a splash we me and my diminutive friends. But there was no internet then and I couldn’t find out for sure.