Murmuration

You probably know about the face on Mars, the mesa imaged by Viking I in 1976. It looks like a mask, a face, something that could only exist because Martians built it. But, it turns out, it’s just a rock (a really beautiful rock), only looking like a face when the shadows fall just right.

Small part of the Cydonia region, taken by the Viking 1 orbiter and released by NASA/JPL on July 25, 1976

Mars is also home to a woman made of dust, something that looks like a Terminator hand, a floating spoon. Mars has bones and squirrels and sometimes Tusken Raiders. But they’re only there when the light is just right, when we look at them in a certain way.

What if they were there for a reason? What if someone or something were trying to tell us something? Would we listen? We’re humans and we’re ridiculous, often unable to listen over the sound of our own yelling. We are often too focused inward to listen to anything that challenges us.

My first story in IGMS is “Murmuration,” and it’s set on beloved Mars; Tangent noted that it has a Bradbury flavor and I couldn’t be happier about that. I grew up reading The Martian Chronicles and still dream about Martians.

For this story, I wanted bones discovered on Mars — of course these bones would be strange and unexpected. What kind of bones might one find in an ancient lake bed? Fish? Turtles? Whales?

I read a lot about Pompeii for this story; how victims left hollows in the debris. How, when plaster is poured in, one can recreate the body that was once there. This idea was haunting — still is, really. What kind of hollows might exist on other worlds? What will we find when we explore them?

The heroine of this story is also a hollow; there’s something growing inside her, something that will eventually fill all the space she has vacated.

Just as something will eventually fill all the spaces we currently do…

…it’s a cheery story.

Promise.

A lady in the dust

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