Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Five places to visit on your Rekal vacation to Mars

The summer is more than half over, but there’s still plenty of time to book an imaginary adventure vacation to Mars through your local Rekal, Incorporated travel agent. With Rekal’s patented extra-factual memory implants and no hidden fees, now is an exciting time to escape your real life and get your ass to Mars! Here are five places
on the Red Planet you should consider visiting during your virtual vacation:

1. Meridian Museum

Located in the western sector of the city of Meridian, just over the longitudinal time line, the Meridian Museum houses many significant carvings and artifacts excavated from aboriginal Martian archaeological sites. Gallery Three has beautiful bas-reliefs depicting incredible and bizarre animals fighting each other, as well as the Siren Goddess, a priceless lump of sandstone discovered in the Mares Sirenium by the Third Expedition, A.D. 2012 (A.M. 23). Eight or nine inches high, with slightly oriental features, elongated earlobes, hair curled in tight ringlets close to the scalp, lips half parted in an expression of pleasure or surprise, this head of a young human woman has baffled archeologists and scientists for years. As the tour guide points out, the aboriginal Martians never came near to space flight and their civilization died before humans existed on Earth!

2. New Plymouth

New Plymouth, situated in the northern hemisphere, grew from the small base that developed around the landing site of the Beagle, the first spacecraft to carry humans to the surface of Mars. The old spacecraft is on display in Founders Square, just behind a bronze statue of Dr. Rebecca Sherman, who discovered Martian prebacteria shortly after the Beagle landed in 2011. New Plymouth Cemetery is also worth a visit, for it has several “statues” of unfortunate prospectors and other travelers who got caught out in the frightfully cold Martian air and froze to death into rock-hard ice sculptures.

3. Carrion Caves

These fabled caves at the northern pole consist of a series of twenty-seven connecting subterranean chambers, carved out by running water in the distant past. According to the ancient chronicles of the first historians of Barsoom, the Carrion Caves were discovered by the yellow men as they retreated from the ravages of the green hordes that overran the planet as the drying up of the great oceans drove the dominant races from their strongholds. A mighty battle was fought near the caves, in which the yellow men were victorious. Legend says they piled the bodies of the dead, both yellow and green, in the subterranean chambers so that the stench might deter their enemies. Hence, the distinct smell of the Carrion Caves.

4. Tomb of Rhiannon

The tomb of the legendary Martian god Rhiannon, the Cursed One, is located in the time-worn hills that loom behind Jekkara, one of the Low Canal towns and ancient stronghold of the Sea Kings. Rhiannon was a rebellious human-superhuman hero-god, whose sinful pride caused some mysterious catastrophe and got him locked in a hidden tomb. More than a million years ago! The Interplanetary Society of Archaeologists considers the tomb of Rhiannon to be the oldest relic on Mars.

5. Sloths coffeehouse

A canyon-wall coffeehouse halfway up Strata City, Sloths is most noted for the breathtaking view and the squirrel-suited cliff jumpers that slam by the windows on their way down to the floor of Valles Marineris, the deepest canyon on Mars. A word of caution to those who think the jumping looks like fun. If you don’t have a reasonably intuitive grasp of the Navier-Stokes equations and a few basic aerodynamic principles, there is a good chance you will kill yourself. Jumpers reach terminal velocities of one sixth of a kilometer per second, and they don’t wear parachutes or rocket harnesses!

Suggested readings:

“Crime on Mars” (1960), by Arthur C. Clarke

How to Live on Mars: A Trusty Guidebook to Surviving and Thriving
on the Red Planet
(2008), by Robert Zubrin

The Warlord of Mars (1919), by Edgar Rice Burroughs

The Sword of Rhiannon (1953), by Leigh Brackett

“The Real Story” (2002), by Alastair Reynolds

Pictured: Rekall advertisement

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