Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Jesus on Mars by Philip José Farmer (1979)

Jesus on Mars, by Philip José Farmer (1979)

At left: Paperback original (Los Angeles: Pinnacle Books, 1979), 256 p., $1.95. Cover illustration by Paul Stinson. From the back cover:

As billions of people around the globe sit glued to their television sets in the year 2015, Richard Orme, captain of the first expedition to land on Mars, takes another giant step for mankind. His first words, as he steps out of the landing craft onto the red planet, are transmitted to earth minutes later: ‘Christopher Columbus, you should be here.’ Perhaps he was. Someone has been here. A space-ship sits half-buried under the red dust and heavy boulders. Nearby, there’s a tunnel door. Richard Orme and his crew, dragged into the tunnel by Martians, enter a strange, subterranean world, a world where Martians live in caverns hollowed-out. Mars, a world where Martians pay homage to a sunlike globe – floating high above their cities of the interior. Orme thought they were sun worshippers. But there is a man who dwells within the flaming orb. And these people call him ‘Jesus.’ And the man they called ‘Jesus’ would go back to Earth. He would be labeled ‘the Anti-Christ.’ And Richard Orme asked himself, Would history repeat itself … once more?”

Jesus on Mars has an interesting bibliographic history. Originally, an abridged version was scheduled to appear in Asimov's Science Fiction magazine before the novel was published. However, due to editing problems, this never happened. Instead, the abridgement was included in Farmer's Riverworld War: the Suppressed Fiction of Philip José Farmer (1980), where the preface explains the "suppression" and the title, Jesus on Mars. Two years later, the original 1979 novel was printed in Great Britain.

Farmer's website is packed with interesting bits of information pertaining to Jesus on Mars: original manuscripts for sale, a book review from the November 1979 issue of Science Fiction Review, a gallery of cover art, and an interview where he briefly mentions Asimov's "suppression."

No comments: