Thursday, September 14, 2006

Our Fascination with Mars

The men of Earth came to Mars.
They came because they were afraid or unafraid, because they were happy or unhappy, because they felt like Pilgrims or did not feel like Pilgrims. There was a reason for each man. They were leaving bad wives or bad jobs or bad towns; they were coming to find something or leave something or get something, to dig up something or bury something or leave something alone. They were coming with small dreams or large dreams or no dreams at all. But a government finger pointed from four-color posters in many towns: THERE'S WORK FOR YOU IN THE SKY: SEE MARS! and the men shuffled forward, only a few at first, a double-score, for most men felt great illness in them even before the rocket fired into space. And this disease was called The Lonliness, because when you saw your home town dwindle to the size of your fist, and then lemon-size and then pin-size and vanish in the fire-wake, you felt you had never been born, there was no town, you were nowhere, with space all around, nothing familiar, only other strange men.And when the state of Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, or Montana vanished into cloud seas, and, doubly, when the United States shrank to a misted island and the entire planet Earth became a muddy baseball tossed away, then you were alone, wandering in the meadows of space, on your way to a place you couldn't imagine.

Ray Bradbury The Martian Chronicles 1950


  1. This guy is amazing. One of my favorites so far!!!

  2. Thanks for your comment, thelittleman! I'm glad you like what you see here - I should point out that today's post has work by two illustrators: Frederick Siebel did the top piece ( he also did that odd looking T-rex piece from Monday's post) and the bottom one is by Arthur Lidov.

  3. Thanks for pointing that out. I guess I'm loving the series then. You can tell the illustrators enjoy the subject matter. Better than illustrating a product eh?!

    Tom (aka thelittleman) hehehe...

  4. Haha, no doubt. Science fiction subjects were rare indeed in mainstream magazines of the 50's. Romance, western, crime, war - and pretty much any combination or permutation of those genres were commonplace, but the images you see this week represent the total of all the two hundred-or-so issues of The Saturday Evening Post and Collier's magazines I flipped through to find source material for this week's posts.

    For the illustrators who regularly received assignments from thos magazines to paint fiction illustrations, painting a sci-fi scene must have been quite refreshing!

  5. Love the top piece.

    I've got a soft spot for Mars myself.

    My son's name's Carter ........ you figure it out ;)

    Thanks for posting.

    P.S. I've posted some new stuff on my blog that you might dig.

  6. Just wonderful stuff this week, Leif. I posted a note on my blog today about going to the Society of Illustrators, where one can see framed originals by so many of these wonderful commercial artists from the past. I took a couple photos.

  7. My grandfather, William Sambrot, was a science fiction writer who appeared in the same issue as Lidov's Cathedral painting. He wrote Lidov saying how much he enjoyed the illustration. A few weeks later the original came in the post.

    I remember many hours listening to my grandfather's stories in his study, all of it framed by the strange painting which seemed so unfathomable to me. That astronauts would clamor over a spindly, alien coral hillside only to find the most human of edifices.

    Seeing it in my room now I do feel that something vital is missing from what we do, what we enjoy- a certain craft. The world these men reached to describe seems not to have a home in it for them.

  8. Thanks for sharing your special insight on the topic, julian. Its much appreciated and very eloquently put! :-)