With the recent news that scientists have discovered signs of water on Mars, Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin chimed in on the planet’s relevance to his life in an essay for the Guardian.
He references the vast literary library of Mars-inspired stories and books, citing the Mariner missions that “put an end to the glory days” of the planet, by revealing “no trace of cities, living or dying. No Tharks, no thoats, no Martians of any hue or colour.” While the new discoveries on the planet in the late 60s and early 70s thrilled scientists, Martin remembers that “for the readers and writers of science fiction, the excitement was mingled with disillusionment and dismay. This was not the Mars we wanted.”
Mars, of course, was the setting for so many pieces of fiction: War of the Worlds, The Martian Chronics, A Rose for Ecclesiastes and so many more. But more than that, it was the imaginary idea of Mars that inspired Martin to fantasize, to dream. He remembers how living in the projects in New Jersey but says: “It never mattered, though, for I had other worlds.”
Though Mars, which Martin calls the color of ‘blood and fire,’ hasn’t turned out to be like the Mars he and other writers imagined, he did take to creating other worlds, plenty of blood and fire, too.