Monday, December 31, 2007

Moving Mars: Ms. Majumdar Goes to Washington

Thanks to a recent post at SF Signal about a list of Amish references in science fiction, we were able to track down a neat passage from Greg Bear’s Nebula Award-winning Moving Mars (1993). According to the list, Bear's main character, a Martian colonist named Casseia Majumdar, "visits Earth for the first time, on a diplomatic mission, and sees some of the sites in the Washington, D.C. area, where she is staying”:
Visits to schools in Washington and Virginia, usually over ed-nets from our hotel room ... A quick train journey to Pennsylvania to meet with Amish Friends of Sylvan Earth, who had finally accepted the use of computers, but not thinkers. Back to Washington … A guided tour of the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

The original Library of Congress had been sealed in helium and was accessible now only in pressure suits. We were not offered the chance to go in. Arbeiters roamed its halls, guarding and tracking its countless billions of paper books and periodicals. It had stopped accepting paper copies in 2049; most research was now conducted out of the electronic archives, which filled a small chamber several hundred feet beneath the old library. Alice absorbed as much of the library as she needed, but even her immense reserves of memory would have been taxed by absorbing all.

At the Air and Space Museum, we stood for pictures at the foot of a full-size replica of the first Mars lander, the
Captain James Cook. I had seen the original as a perform schoolgirl. To me, the replica seemed larger beneath its dome than the original, sitting in the open air of Elysium.
Interestingly, the Library of Congress has two copies of Greg Bear’s Moving Mars, one of which is “stored offsite.” Also, while the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum does not have a replica of Bear's Captain James Cook, it does have a Viking Lander Proof Test Article.

Happy New Year!

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