Issue 27 – Mars

Mars, barren planet
in which angry god resides…
red its countenance.
Barren, surfeit of slaughter.
Red with the tincture of blood.

By David Edwards


Lonely here on Mars
Only company robots
Plus faulty AI
Unless counting the fruit-flies
Over in habitat three

By DS Davidson


The Last Martian
By Harris Coverley

thin slither of life
found in red dust—finger slips
shit… any tissues?”


Mars Terraforming Committee – First Meeting
By K. A. Williams

1st Speaker: “Earth has too many seas. Mars should have none.”
Chairman: “No marine life or beaches? Mars needs at least one.”
2nd Speaker: “We can bring back some extinct animals and plants.”
Chairman: “That’s up to scientists when we get the grants.”
3rd Speaker: “Bring back the dinosaurs. That would be so cool.”
Chairman: “With the new world colonists? Don’t be a fool.”
Chairman: “Guard, why did you let this man into my meeting?”
Guard: “Sorry. He must have slipped in while I was eating.”
4th Speaker: “No animals with a deadly bite or sting.”
5th Speaker: “Lots of butterflies and colorful birds that sing.”
6th Speaker: “No volcanos anywhere. Remember Pompeii.”
Chairman: “We’re making good progress. Let’s adjourn for today.”
Chairman: “I promised you lunch and there should be plenty.”
Chairman: “Unless the guard hasn’t left us any.”


By Cardinal Cox

The horizon on Mars is much closer than on Earth (due to the relative size of the planet) so it is easy to wander out of sight of the base aerials. Just a moments distraction by an interesting boulder and there’s only the satellite link between you and abandonment.

wind scours the plains
sand blast splits rocks – dunes advance
the slow tiger hunts

The bulk of the base is below the surface with scree piled over it to try and increase the insulation from cosmic radiation. In here the horizon is seldom more than an arms length away so mandatory exercise is conducted wearing V-headsets to create the illusion that you are in some forest or empty beach.

home a snug burrow
search for fresh cabbage fields
dream of Mount Fuji

The news is similarly enclosed. Local reports focus on the Chinese investigation into the mass suicide of the Tibetan monks (sponsored on the whim of a Mumbai billionaire) in the now abandoned former-Indian sector. The local Zen monastery (similarly the bequest of an electronics tycoon) prays for their souls but refuses to discuss the possibility of them reincarnating in the native nests in the lava tubes beneath Olympus Mons.

cargo craft is due
comforts cost more than if gold
crawls long curve from Earth

Headlines from Earth consist of the President in Yellow in the U.S.; arrests of druids of Nodens in Brittany; the civil war in Arabia and the rebel stronghold of Irem; rumours of a fresh South American A.I.

morning and evening
star – faint over horizon
home a twinkle dot

She thinks of her brother at home in Japan and hopes she will see him at the end of this tour of duty.


If the Moon was a Part of Mars…
By Harris Coverley

Inspired by the 45th President of the United States: “[NASA] should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science!”

If the Moon was a part of Mars
The canals would’ve been so much longer
And the Martians would not have had
Any need to invade us
And be killed off by our alien bacteria
Because their resource management
Would’ve been more sustainable

If the Moon was a part of Mars
The sands of both would swirl together
Into something resembling decorative bath salts
Or maybe a sugary dip for a lollipop
Something that children would want to taste
(And that I myself wouldn’t mind having a lick of)

If the Moon was a part of Mars
The God of War would be joined
At the hip with the goddess Luna
And they would make such an odd couple
What with all his masculine aggression
And her with mainly agricultural concerns
A divorce (or surgery) would be inevitable

If the Moon was a part of Mars
The tides of our world would be ridiculous
Entire continents would be submerged overnight
And fauna and flora as we know it could not possibly exist

If the Moon was a part of Mars
It’s possible that some things might’ve been easier
But that is not the universe we live in
And we are forced to act accordingly

originally published in Star*Line, 42.3, Summer 2019


Invaders From Mars
By DJ Tyrer

Peculiar how probes missed them
Children of a barren world
Seeking a new home
Arrive in their millions
Overwhelming force
Humanity knuckles under
Preparing the counter-attack
For control of a devastated Earth