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Excerpt from The Heart of Mars by Chuck Rosenthal

excerpt from
The Heart of Mars




There has never been a good reason to be anywhere, let alone here. Yet here I am. And there you are. I am learning to write. And you, by now, must be learning how to read.

One of the big fish ferries from the ocean moon, the Gift Moon, Europa, had been hijacked and by all indications re-routed to the fourth planet, the desert planet, Mars. Where could you hide a billion fish on Mars? Who could keep them? Who could eat them? That's how my story begins. I was sent from Home, once called Earth, to investi-gate. There were robiots available, but you can't send a robiot to do a Nutian's work. In fact, you send a homan.

Long ago, one of the many things that was supposed to happen that didn't happen, was that things called machines would learn to think on their own. Non-biological space ships would travel at the speed of light. Or faster. But we have learned that there is an ebb and flow to everything. As the Nutian might say, we plumb run out of progress.



Coincidently, one of the many stories about Home before the Return of the Nutian has to do with Fish Wars. It was long before fish ferries and before the Nutian Return to save Home. I've found evidence that homan beings were organized under something called government, and government was a small group of people who told a larger group what to do. Usually the big group of people lived in about the same place, on a certain piece of geography, as their leaders, but not always. As you can imagine, it was good to be a governor, less good to be governed, so government created many misunderstandings.

Now during this time there was something called writing, which is what I am doing now. Well, actually not right now as you are reading. I made these symbols quite some time ago. But you are reading right now, just like you might listen to someone, or tactile-intuit them or smell them on bio-phone. I suppose you might know all of this already if you are, in fact, reading it, but for me this writing business is new, and though an ancient homan thing, a very unusual thing.

Once machines did the remembering for homans. It was called recording because machines didn't even know they had the messages. Can you imagine that?



Before the Return, homans spoke a thousand different languages and once wrote in them, too. Add to that the fact that we homans require two sexes to reproduce, quite an oddity in the known galaxy, and, well, you can imagine how difficult it was to agree on anything. Homanity was a species welded by conflict. Those ancient times were complex and brutal, yet in some ways beautiful, too. Do you know that idea? Beautiful? That's the thing. Writing has all these ancient homan ideas.

Cumbersome as it might seem, it seems that pages and pages of writing were once compiled in things called books. If you ever read a book before–and maybe you have and maybe you have not–but if you did, then you would know that it was hard to take very seriously everything that books said. They were very contradictory. And the books that said the craziest things were often the ones that people seemed to love the most. Sometimes governments believed in books and all the people under them were supposed to believe in that book as well.

It's hard to know when people gave up writing and began only speaking, but the Nutian say that it was at the point that homans started using machines to write. After a while, machines were doing all the writing. Almost all of the writing I have found in books has been done by machines. It is hard to know when the machines took over all the writing. Maybe some people still used their hands to write, as I am doing now, but it is very hard to produce many copies of what you have written without some help.

Once machines took over writing, some time in what homans then called the Twentieth Century, homans communicated almost exclusively through talking, though even in this, unless they were right in front of each other, they couldn't do it without machines. No wonder we have such a confusing view of our species as it existed before the Return. Having multiple languages was confusing enough without getting machines which didn't know anything involved! Soon machines controlled almost all communication and, obviously, machines were not very independent thinkers.

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