I, Captain Daniel J. Hanley, chief meteorologist of the General
Rocket Corporation, had no intention of going to Mars when I stepped
into the new space car and pressed gently but with finality on the
I was conscious only of a great urge to get as far away as
possible from a certain young woman who had--but why go into details
about that? It is enough that I didn't fully realize what I was doing.
And as a result, here I was, the first man ever to pass beyond the
stratosphere of Earth, actually hovering a scant mile above a Martian
landscape, trembling with suppressed excitement and giving not a
thought to the girl who had driven me to my mad, premature plunge into
I faced infinity with reckless abandon, and found that I liked it.
What did it matter if the end came in a day, week, or month? Why,
there were no days, weeks, or months in interplanetary space! Only
eternal, blazing noon on one side of my tiny craft and everlasting
midnight on the other, while countless galaxies gleamed upon me in new
glory from all sides.
That I landed on Mars, instead of some other planet, was due
solely to chance. In hurling my tiny craft madly, blindly away from
Earth I happened to set it on an orbit that brought it closer to Mars
than to any other heavenly body. As I drew nearer, the planet grew in
size and in interest, until it entirely filled the great lens of my
wide-angle scope. Its mountain ranges and peculiar canals became
I manipulated my rocket blasts a bit and swung closer. There was
no indication that the canals were man-made. Rather they seemed
furrows caused by glancing blows of meteors. And there were many
craters which, though small like those of the moon, appeared to be the
result of head-on meteoric impact.
As the planet grew still larger, I could see that there were no
oceans and continents in the sense that we know them on Earth.
Nevertheless, the divisions between the ice caps, polar seas, solid
vegetation belts, canal-irrigated sections, and finally the vast and
eternally dry, red equatorial belt, were clear and sharp. The northern
and southern hemispheres, widely divided by this belt, seemed