Object 90

A Letter from Mars

2057, Mars

This email shows what life was like for young people on the frontier in the 50s; luxurious by the standard of mere decades before, but still too far from the bright lights of cislunar civilisation:

Hey Biu Biu,

So, there's a solar storm happening which means we all need to go underground. That's bad enough, but it means we don't have proper net access — so prepare yourself for a mega-email since I don't have anything else to do! (No, seriously, I don't. But I still like emailing.)

So you're jealous? Of me? That's crazy — seriously crazy. OK, so the Valles Marineris beats the Grand Canyon any time, and *yes*, hiking up Olympus Mons into SPACE! beats Everest any time — but you know, there's just only so much outdoors stuff you can do before it just gets... samey? You can't have chocolate every meal and you can't go hiking every day.

Those adverts about how being on Mars is "An Adventure Every Day" (or whatever those idiots are saying now) are totally over the top. Maybe "An Adventure, Occasionally, If Your Parents Will Let You Out" or "An Adventure, If You're Talking About Being on Mars In A Game, Not Actually In Real Life".

And I know you think I don't appreciate being here on the frontier, blah blah blah, that Earth is so boring and not special and everywhere is so busy, so: here is my List of Reasons Why Mars Sucks:

1. Everything is so slow! It takes DAYS to get new restaurants and shops built because all the bots we make are put into the Biosphere project (or as I like to call it, the BS project) or into looking for more Mars bugs. And you know what adults say whenever I complain? They say I should be *impressed* by how fast things are going, because it'll just be a few decades before we have all these thousands of square kilometres tented. DECADES! Honestly, it's like they don't know the meaning of 'fast'. I wish we'd let our microbes get more work done before we got here.

1a. The Lag. You know what the most exciting time of year is? Landing Day? Nope. May Day? Nuh uh. Christmas? Fun, but no. It's Opposition: when a ping to Earth only takes ten minutes. For just a few sweet days, I can almost fool myself into thinking I'm actually part of CIVILISATION and I can actually talk to people. It almost makes up for when ping times get to 40 minutes and everyone is depressed and we all might as well be on Saturn. Almost.

2. It's boring. I mean, we do have decent tech here and OK, it is fun to hike outside or fly around — but there just aren't enough people around to play decent games. I tried playing Les Miserables yesterday and I could only find 4,000 other people on the WHOLE PLANET who were on it — what's the point?

3. So I said it was fun to get outside — if you're allowed to! But there are so many warnings about decompression and airlocks and seals and safeties and tracking that by the time you *do* get out, you've only got a few minutes. Not much of an adventure, if you ask me. I swear, I can't wait till I'm 14...

4. It wouldn't be so bad if I was on the Moon or even farther out, but it just takes way too long and costs way too much to get to Earth from here. There's only two laser launchers on Mars and they're always busy. Yeah, they're building an elevator, but that's going to be at least another decade! And *even with* the elevator, the picket ships still take weeks to make the trip. I know it's a bit easier to get out to the belt, but there's nothing to see there yet, just a bunch of robots and terraria that won't let any 'tourists' in.

Anyway, I've got a plan of how to get out of here. So there's a lottery every week for seats on the picket ship, and you can get extra tickets if you help out the community. Now, if you ask *me*, I figure it's all rigged because it always ends up being adults voting for each other, I don't think a kid has ever won...

Until now! (evil laugh). See, they're having a problem with a dome at Nicosia, there's a runaway feedback loop making the oxygen levels spike. The labs can't figure it out — they just keep on tweaking the microbes every week, but they keep on failing. OBVIOUSLY the problem is that Nicosia has radiation issues because they're using an old tent, plus there are mutagens floating around there — that's why the microbes never take, they keep on getting knocked out.

I tried to tell them to put in more tent shielding or anti-rad genes, but they won't listen to a kid. So I figure that if we can set up a tiny tiny replica near Nicosia with the same conditions and try out my plan, it'll prove I'm right once and for all. Easy, eh? OK, maybe not, it'd actually be pretty expensive to do that.

BUT! I know you have some pull with the Cobra co-op after we helped rescue their remote bots, so *maybe* if we did some more work for them, like when I sneaked out there to fix some of their stuff, they could trade us some time to help set up a replica? Then all we'd need is some biostuff, but I can handle that — there's a guy in my club who knows a guy. And once it's done, I’ll get plenty of tickets for the lottery and I'll be on a seat to Earth and it'll just be awesome.

So... yeah. This has got to be the longest mail I've ever sent, but it's a complicated plan, you know? And I'm a complicated person. Let me know what you think — I'll be sitting here waiting, it's not like there's anything else to do while the storm's on.

See you on Earth!