Thursday, December 08, 2011

An Unclear Story About Walking To Mars

“And she doesn’t look like that woman. And neither do I.”

Norman was struck by the conviction with which Beth denied any resemblance or association to the mummified woman. “Beth,” he said, “what do you suppose happened here? Why is this woman the only one left?”

“I think she was important to the expedition,” Beth said. “Maybe even the captain, or the co-captain. The others were mostly men. And they did something foolish—I don’t know what—something she advised them against—and as a result they all died. She alone remained alive in this spacecraft. And she piloted it home. But there was something wrong with her—something she couldn’t help—and she died.”

“What was wrong with her?”

“I don’t know. Something.”

Fascinating, Norman thought. He’d never really considered it before, but this room—for that matter, this entire spacecraft—was one big Rorschach. Or more accurately, a TAT. The Thematic Apperception Test was a psychological test that consisted of a series of ambiguous pictures. Subjects were supposed to tell what they thought was happening in the pictures. Since no clear story was implied by the pictures, the subjects supplied the stories. And the stories told much more about the storytellers than about the pictures.

from Sphere
by Michael Crichton

“If you could walk to Mars,” he asked, “would you go?”

Walk to Mars?” she asked.

“I don’t mean through outer space,” he said. “I mean if there was something like what fringe people call a star-gate. Some kind of mystical portal. Maybe a lost or a secret cave. A magical doorway. If you could walk through some metaphysical passageway between this world and that one, would you walk through it?”

“Isn’t the atmosphere on Mars not breathable? In the movie ‘Total Recall’ didn’t people sort of explode because of the low pressure on Mars?”

He looked at her and smiled, tightly. “That’s at the Martian equivalent of what we call sea-level here on Earth. But just as atmospheric pressure here becomes less if you climb mountains and greater in deep valleys or cave systems or extreme construction excavations, the atmospheric pressure on Mars increases the farther down you go below the surface. So let’s say the passageway we’re talking about opens far down within an immense rift valley cut deeply into the Martian surface where the atmospheric pressure is safe for a human. Would you walk through that passage?”

She smiled and her eyes were bright. She asked, “Why are you even asking me this question?”

He asked, “Why are you avoiding answering it?”

Still smiling, she said, “Because it’s crazy?”

“Would you go?” he asked.

She sighed and said nothing. She looked away from him. Then she looked back and saw that he was still looking at her, still waiting for an answer.

She sighed again, loudly, and made her eyes very big. She asked, “Would you go with me?”

He smiled. He leaned to her and kissed her.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Pamela At The Doorway To Atlantis

This Woman From The Canals Of Mars

A Long Walk

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