If you’re here via Sci-Fi-O-Rama you may also enjoy some bits I’ve written after seeing Ian McQue’s compelling concept ships. Enjoy!
“I don’t recall Brainard taking this picture, but it must have been him. There’s Teague on the mainframe of course. Big ol’ Mathis watching him—I guess. And holding a rope? Shipley’s got his back to the camera–facing north–overlooking the chasm. You can tell it’s him and not Brainard from that ridiculous collar he wore that also ran down his back to his shorts. Was that really in fashion?”
The auditorium chuckles. Back chokes, as the kids call them, resurfaced less than a year ago right after this photo made it rounds on the web.
“And, of course that’s me looking like some Forties-era pin-up. We cannibalized our suits for the circuitry and monofil. And it was hot. Any questions so far?”
Hands go up.
“But first, yes I had long blonde hair then. Yes I’m really wearing a thong.” Dr. Mades gestures to her near buzz-cut grey hair and slightly sagging frame. She does a vampy pose. “Hard to believe either now isn’t it?”
The auditorium chuckles. Several people clap. Most of the hands go down.
“I thought that might cut questions in half. Ms Sandifer, you first.”
“The whole trip to Mars thing seems mythical now. There were ten or fifteen practice runs before your crew’s ultimate success…failure. And nothing after. Have we not been back in 40 years because of that failure?” Ms Sandifer sits back down.
Dr. Mades smiles, but doesn’t respond. She clicks the slide to half bright then looks over her shoulder to the wings of the stage like she’s seeking permission from a hidden compatriot. “My dear, you think that because we crash landed. Because Shipley died and Teague’s body was never brought back. Because Brainard went insane and became a serial murderer back on Earth. And because I lost both my legs that it was a failure?”
Dr. Mades looks around to the gathered students—some of whom are not enrolled in any of her courses let alone this one. Everyone thinks that. She walks to the edge of the stage and peers directly into Ms Sandifer’s eyes. She whispers.
“It’s precisely because of those things that it was a success.”