Mars and Venus were at war. This is not a metaphor of any kind; it turns out that there’s sentient life on Venus, and sentient life on Mars, and they’re bipedal and speak English and read newspapers.
If all of this seems implausible and looks like it would fly in the face of logic, reason, and science, we’d like to remind you: none of those things have faces.
Earth cultures are extremely diverse, for a number of complicated reasons. But Martians and Venusians are monocultural. That’s not, strictly speaking, necessary; but we figure, if we’re going to make astronomers and linguists and evolutionary biologists sad, we might as well create some misery among anthropologists.
At any rate, Mars and Venus were at war. Space War. It was very ugly. Because there were Martians on Venus and Venusians on Mars, and on each planet, the ‘alien’ species was treated with horrible prejudice. This was not cool, but as Earthlings were too busy yelling at each other to notice that all of their telescopes had been defective for centuries, there wasn’t much we could do about it, seeing as how we didn’t know any of these beings existed.
One cold day on Venus (I can’t be bothered to look up the temperature of Venus, so let’s assume that this was the kind of cold that’s a bit uncomfortable, but which won’t freeze you alive. Actually…oh. It’s very, very hot on Venus. Well, I’ll just forget I learned that.)
—one cold day on Venus, two Martians were sitting on a park bench. One was reading a Martian newspaper, the other a Venusian newspaper. It wasn’t even a reputable Venusian newspaper; it had poor journalistic standards even for its time, which was 1949.
They sat in silence for a while. Eventually, the Martian with the Martian paper looked sternly over at his companion.
“Forgelvax,” he said. “What are you doing?”
Forgelvax looked up from his paper. “What do you mean, Beepleprog?”
(For your information, Maritans think YOU have a silly name. So there.)
Forgelvax looked upset. “Why are you reading that horrid Venusian propaganda? Why aren’t you reading a nice, helpful Martian paper?”
Beepleprog shrugged. “Look, Forgelvax,” he replied, “when I read a Martian paper, I hear that Mars is in trouble, I hear that the fighting is bad, I hear that the harvest is doing poorly, I hear that the slithy toves continue to gyre and gimble in the wabe. It’s all very depressing.” He tapped the Venusian paper. “Now in this rag, I hear that Martians control the economy, Martians own all the pet shops, Martians are getting into all the best schools, and Martians are going to take over the world. I know that it’s lies, but it makes me feel great!”
My name is Jeff Mach (“Dark Lord” is optional) and I build communities, put on events, and make stories come into being. You can get most of my books right here. Go ahead, pre-order “I HATE Your Prophecy“. It may make you into a bad person, but I can live with that.