Monday, 28 January 2013

Major Project - Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed

I've been looking at some Ray Bradbury stories, to look at the possibility of making my Mars idea less factual and incorporating it into an existing fictional story.

Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed, fits well with it.

The atomic war has caused the Bittering family, Harry, Cora, and their children, Dan, Laura, and David, natives of Boston, to join the small population of humans who have colonized Mars. Shortly after their arrival, Harry decides he wants to go back to Earth, as Mars is too different from Earth. Unfortunately, a nuclear bomb hits New York City, destroying the ships and rockets and stranding the Bitterings on Mars.
Uneasily settling into their new environment, Harry begins to notice certain changes to the plants and animals. (The family dairy cow has grown a third horn and the grass is now purple, for example.) Harry also begins to notice that the people in town are referring to local mountain ranges in the Martian language, easily unsettling him. Upon realizing there is something seriously wrong, Harry becomes scared of living on Mars, and although his wife and children think nothing of it, Harry begins to suspect a Martian virus, that is in the soil they grow their crops in, is making them act like Martians. While his family begins to fear for his sanity, Harry begins eating only frozen food grown on Earth and kept in his deep freeze. Unfortunately, that soon runs out and Harry quickly grows desperate, buying the metal and blueprints for a rocket to transport himself and his family home to Earth, despite the imminent danger and the nagging doubt that he will not be able to build a sturdy rocket. He tries to convince Sam to help him build the rocket and return home, but they laugh and talk about him. Harry gets into several arguments with them, but oddly enough, they never raise their voices.
Harry's boy Dan wants to be called a Martian name (Linnl), and Harry himself is using Martian words (iorrt for Earth). In the meantime, Harry and his family become very dark skinned, tall, thin, and golden-eyed. Harry slowly stops resisting the change, and he is convinced that they, along with the rest of the colonists, should spend the rest of the summer in the cool Martian villas (ancient Martian mansions in the hills), where they can swim in the water canals. They eventually become Martians, and stay in the villas, because that is where they "belong". After a time in the hills, the colonists completely forget about their human origins and transform completely into Martians. This is implied when Harry notices their old homes and remarks how the "Earthmen's" houses are not built sensibly.
At the end of the story, a few years later a group of American G.I. astronauts arrives to tell the human colonists that the war on Earth is over and to rescue them, but there are no humans left, only their buildings and a rusted rocket. Instead, they find Martians, and at first suspect the Martians may have killed the colonists, but then they realize the Martians are too friendly for that. The astronauts conclude that a plague wiped out the colonists and make plans to recolonize Mars, even naming the mountains after famous things from Earth. The ending is a foreboding feeling that what happened to the Bitterings will soon happen to these new colonists.

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