Dawn Colony

“What brought you to Mars?” said Ori. The adults in the colony had grown up on one planet then decided to move to another. Why they did this was a topic that interested all the kids.

“It was the culture,” said Katy. “I realized Dawn was the greatest experiment in human culture ever conducted, so I came to see it myself. I only planned to be here one year, but then the Schism occurred.” Ori knew that term meant the time when the Martian colonists refused to return to Earth. “I knew the changes that would cause would be profound,” said Katy, “and I had to be here to record them.” She paused, remembering. “That’s partly true, at least. But, also, I loved what I saw happening on Mars and wanted to be part of it. So, when the last transport left for Earth, I stayed.”

From Water: Generation Mars, Book Three. Available now at https://www.amazon.com/Water-Generation-Mars-Book-Three/dp/1733731067

 

Image: Dawn Colony mission patch

 

Zombies?

The opening was a ramp leading down into darkness. Tomás went into a small booth next to the hole and flipped some switches. The darkness below suddenly blinded them with brightness as the lights came on and reflected up at them from the blue-whiteness of the ice. Their visors quickly attenuated the difference in lighting, and they were able to see again.

“That should keep zombies away, no?” said Tomás.

The kids looked at him questioningly. Katy cleared her throat. “Tomás is referring to an old computer game from Earth. We don’t need to worry about zombies.”

“Si, not now,” he said.

She slugged him in the arm. The kids smiled.

From Water: Generation Mars, Book Three. Available now at https://www.amazon.com/Water-Generation-Mars-Book-Three/dp/1733731067

Image: my own

Cycler

“What happened to all that hydrogen?” someone asked.
“Until trade stopped, most of it went to Earth via the cycler,” said Katy.
A hand went up. “What’s the cycler?”
Tomás looked at Katy to see if he could answer. Katy nodded. “Is spaceship,” he said, “in a special orbit around the Sun that brings it near Mars every sixteen months. We load it with hydrogen and, 146 days later, it pass near Earth. They unload. Then off it goes for sixteen months until it comes back by. There are actually two of these in different orbits. Other is used to send supplies and people from Earth to Mars.”
A hand went up. “Are they still there?”
“Oh yeah,” said Tomás. “Some of you might remember the last time we have delivery from Earth several years back. Now they just circling around, waiting.”
A hand went up. “Waiting for what?”
“Until Earth need our hydrogen again.”

From Water: Generation Mars, Book Three. Available now at https://www.amazon.com/Water-Generation-Mars-Book-Three/dp/1733731067

Image: Aldrin cycler orbital diagram from Hawkeye7, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en

 

CCF

After a few minutes of questions and answers, Nour started the rover and resumed the descent. Several minutes later the big rover drove out onto the ice sheet. Here, perhaps owing to the protection of the crater rim, the road was more distinct. The ice, which did not look like ice, was not flat. There were ridges and contours that mimicked the shape of the crater. These were called concentric crater fill and were caused by the slow movement of the ice as it had receded and grown, receded and grown through the millions of years it had existed in this crater. The road wound its way through these ridges until it reached the cluster of buildings and tanks and that gaping hole.

From Water: Generation Mars, Book Three. Available now at https://www.amazon.com/Water-Generation-Mars-Book-Three/dp/1733731067

Image: NASA

 

On the rim

Nour guided the rover to the south side of the crater. A natural gap in the rim here provided access to the inner crater, and a road had been cut that ascended to this gap then descended the rim in several broad switch-backs. The kids oohed and cooed as the rover tipped and swung its way up the road. A couple of them looked a little ill from motion sickness.

From Water: Generation Mars, Book Three. Available now at https://www.amazon.com/Water-Generation-Mars-Book-Three/dp/1733731067

Image: illustration (color version) by Luis Perez for Water, Generation Mars, Book Three (please note: book interior illustrations are grayscale)

 

School bus

Once the kids were buckled into their seats and the cabin door was closed, Nour started the rover. It ran on an internal combustion engine burning methane, a fuel that was made on Mars from the water and atmospheric gases available. Most of the kids had never been in a rover, and the vibration of this engine was unlike anything they had experienced.

From Water: Generation Mars, Book Three. Available now at https://www.amazon.com/Water-Generation-Mars-Book-Three/dp/1733731067

Image: public domain (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Carbon_County_High_School_Bus_by_Studebaker,_Utah_c_1912.jpg) with a few added tweaks

 

Nour

The kids did not know what to make of Nour. The right half of her face was badly disfigured by a burn, and none of the muscles worked correctly on that side. The eye there was exposed only through a narrow slit of scar tissue, and when she spoke or frowned (she never smiled), only half of her mouth was involved. The left side of her face would have been handsome except that the expression it carried was one of arrogance. Or maybe it was defensiveness. She tended to look at the ground and was hesitant to make eye contact, but when she did, she looked fierce, like she had just been challenged. When she spoke, her voice was low and serious in tone. The kids found her a little scary.

“First things first,” said Nour, “I’m sure you all want to know about my face.”

None of the kids spoke. Of course they wanted to know about her face, but they weren’t going to say that out loud.

From Water: Generation Mars, Book Three. Available now at https://www.amazon.com/Water-Generation-Mars-Book-Three/dp/1733731067

Image: developmental concept art generated by AI with further tweaks of my own (please note: no AI was used in the actual content of the book)

What is water like?

Parents sometimes have moments in which they are caught speechless by a realization about the world as their child sees it. In this case, the realization was this: her daughter had never known water as anything beyond something to drink or to rinse off with in the shower. Cas wanted to know what it was like to have so much water available that you could jump into it, sink into it, be in it. This required a well-considered answer.

From Water: Generation Mars, Book Three. Available now at https://www.amazon.com/Water-Generation-Mars-Book-Three/dp/1733731067

Image: Modified from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_girl_in_a_swimming_pool_-_underwater.jpg (Reg Mckenna from UK, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ )

Made of Mars

It’s important to remember that life, in the collective sense, is made up of an uncountable number of lives, in the individual sense. Two such were those of Cas, the first child born on Mars, and Ori, her little sister. These sisters, like all humans, required oxygen to breath. On Mars, much of that oxygen came from the ice the colonists mined. The body of each sister, like the bodies of all humans, was 60% water and required frequent hydration. On Mars, that hydration came from the ice the colonists mined. The sisters, like all life, were composed of the elements available in their environment. Mars was their home, and they were made of Mars.

From Water: Generation Mars, Book Three. Available now at https://www.amazon.com/Water-Generation-Mars-Book-Three/dp/1733731067

Image: illustration by Luis Perez for Air: Generation Mars, Book One

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Panspermia

It is a truism that where life exists it will expand to use every resource available. Three and a half billion years later, back on Earth, life had left the oceans, evolved to exploit all the resources of the planet, and had been merrily going about doing so until the Earth had little more to give. Luckily, that life had also evolved into a form that no longer required a random collision to leave the surface of its planet. That life looked up and thought, “We could go out there. We should probably go out there.” So that life returned to Mars in machines of its own design, set up shop mining the frozen ancient water from whence it had originated, and began to build an existence for itself on this now strange and desolate planet of its birth.

Flirting with panspermia in Water: Generation Mars, Book Three. Available now at https://www.amazon.com/Water-Generation-Mars-Book-Three/dp/1733731067

Image: illustration by Luis Perez for Shelter: Generation Mars, Book Two