My favorite things Mars

by on July 25, 2009 at 6:10 am in The Arts | Permalink

This was a reader request, so here goes:

1. Song about: Venus and Mars, by Paul McCartney and Wings.  The melody is nice, the synthesizer is used well, and the song doesn't wear out its welcome.

2. Album about: David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Venus and Mars is not overall a good album; it is mostly dull and overproduced.  So Bowie is a clear winner here.

3. Novel about: The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury.  Worth a reread, especially if you first encountered it when young.  Red Mars by Kim Robinson is a runner-up.  What else am I missing?

4. Film about: Mission to Mars.  Underrated de Palma, much better on a big screen, where it has a nice poetry of motion.  I already know that some of you hate this movie, so there is no need to pillory me again on this count.  I have never seen The Eyes of Laura Mars.  What's that old science fiction movie modeled after The Tempest?

5. TV show about: Veronica Mars, especially season one.  Excellent dialogue, and it asks what family really consists of.  One of my favorite years of any TV show.  Is the British show Life on Mars good?  I vaguely recall My Favorite Martian from when I was a kid.  Was it actually about being gay?

6. Musician: Sun Ra.

7. Mars, painting of:  Jacques Louis David probably wins this oneThis image is from Pompeii.

8. Best Cato Institute essay about Martian economics: By Ed Hudgin.

The bottom line: It's not just a culture, they've got a whole planet to work with.

1 babar July 25, 2009 at 8:15 am

sounds great — i’d love to go. what’s the exchange rate?

2 bil. A. July 25, 2009 at 8:31 am

I loved Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Mars series, but then again I was 8 when I started reading it.

3 cdj July 25, 2009 at 8:55 am

The sci-fi movie patterned after The Tempest was Forbidden Planet.

4 Leigh Caldwell July 25, 2009 at 9:34 am

No favourite restaurant??

Life on Mars is pretty good, one of the better regarded British series of the last few years. And unusually for a drama, its main secondary character Gene Hunt got his own spinoff series, Ashes to Ashes, last year. How is the US version?

As for novels, Stranger in a Strange Land was one of my favourites when I first read it, though that may be influenced by the fact that it was one of the very first science fiction novels I encountered.

5 Nancy Lebovitz July 25, 2009 at 10:13 am

Technically, The Martian Chronicles isn’t a novel, it’s a collection of short stories.

I recommend Heinlein’s Red Planet. It’s not as ambitious as Stranger in a Strange Land, but it’s actually set on Mars, and has plenty of good stuff in it.

6 Andy July 25, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Usually the Red Mars/Green Mars/Blue Mars series is considered the best Mars fiction, although I didn’t enjoy it all that much. I think the Martian Chronicles is not particularly good sci-fi. Here are some other candidates:
The Sands of Mars by Arthur C. Clarke
Man Plus by Frederik Pohl
Moving Mars by Greg Bear
Martian Time-Slip by Philip K. Dick

7 AlanW July 25, 2009 at 12:18 pm

Its not a song but Mars, Bringer of War by Holst is pretty good.

Silliest movie about Mars Attacks.

8 AJ July 25, 2009 at 12:27 pm

Don’t knock S2 of VM either.

9 Phil July 25, 2009 at 1:06 pm

I expected to see “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus?” here.

I thought it was a pretty accurate description of the differences between the sexes, especially for its time. Now, every blogger and his brother has an opinion on intrinsic (evolutionary) psychological differences between men and women, but, at the time, there was nothing I’d seen before, and for me it seemed like a breakthrough.

10 Herb Levy July 25, 2009 at 2:43 pm

I like Sun Ra a lot and I’m glad that you do as well (I’m happy to see someone outside of the business advocating for non-pop music). But Tyler, you’ve got to stop using him as a default best musician.

Sun Ra was from Saturn, not Mars. & not Birmingham, Alabama either. I’m not denying that Herman Blount wasn’t born in Birmingham, but Sun Ra was from Saturn. Period.

11 Will McLean July 25, 2009 at 4:02 pm

Venus and Mars by Botticelli. David’s doesn’t come close.

12 Tyler Cowen July 25, 2009 at 4:59 pm

Good call by Will on Botticelli, thanks! *Total Recall* also wins in its category.

13 July 25, 2009 at 6:32 pm

Best movie title: “Mars Needs Women.” (1967)

14 srp July 25, 2009 at 10:40 pm

Best short story: “A Rose for Ecclesiastes” by Roger Zelazny.

15 Fabio Rojas July 26, 2009 at 3:16 pm

Sun Ra was from Saturn. Everyone knows that!

16 Brett July 26, 2009 at 6:40 pm

Red Mars is good, but the succeeding Mars books in Robinson’s Mars Trilogy get worse and worse, until Blue Mars has large sections that are more or less unreadable (they basically consist either of Robinson’s political speculation, or page after page of natural descriptions involving natural activities).

17 Jeremiah July 27, 2009 at 7:57 am

Another novel recommendation: Out of the Silent Planet, by C.S. Lewis. The first of three novels that explores Christianity from a sci-fi perspective, this one takes place on Mars. It is religious in a Narnia-esque way (thematic but not overwrought).

18 B.B. July 27, 2009 at 10:56 am

What’s wrong with you people? Has H. G. Wells fallen into the memory hole?

How about the War of the Worlds? It was conceived after some astronomer using the newest powerful telescopes “found” canals on Mars and changing landscapes suggesting seasonal cycles in vegetation. It galvanized the late-Victornian mind. England welcomed the idea of life and intelligence on other planets.

The whole Mars sci-fi industry (Wells, Bradbury, Burroughs, the comic “Martian Manhunter”) came from these “discoveries.”

Wells was a fierce Darwinian-Malthusian and a believer in eugenics. It would have occurred to him that the Martians would invade earth and replace humans in a law-of-the-jungle, red-in-tooth-and-claw competition for dominance. In a way, the War of the Worlds anticipated World War One,and Neial Fergenson paid homage to that idea when he entitled his book “War of the World.”

19 JWB July 27, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Agree with Herb Levy about dubious nature of the Sun Ra link. For album title, “Mars Needs Guitars!” by the Hoodoo Gurus. For song, “Ballrooms of Mars” by T. Rex, or (if mention in the lyrics but not the title counts) “Space Truckin'” by Deep Purple.

20 JWB July 27, 2009 at 12:42 pm

Agree with Herb Levy about dubious nature of the Sun Ra link. For album title, “Mars Needs Guitars!” by the Hoodoo Gurus. For song, “Ballrooms of Mars” by T. Rex, or (if mention in the lyrics but not the title counts) “Space Truckin'” by Deep Purple.

21 sbrylow July 27, 2009 at 2:16 pm

Viking images are OK, but greatly improved images exist. Both Spirit and Opportunity have been great rovers, and the Mars Global Surveyor mission had the Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) on it, which took over 200,000 images, including many high-resolution (~1.5m/pixel) images of the surface. At least 4 covers of Science magazine came from that camera. Disclaimer: I worked on MOC for 5 years back in the day. :^). See

22 DBrooks July 27, 2009 at 2:55 pm

Robinson Crusoe on Mars, despite that title, is a good sci-fi movie that still holds up today. Yes, it’s dated, but the effects are good, and the story holds one’s interest.

23 Ted July 28, 2009 at 9:06 am

Special Mention Award – Mars novel – C.S. Lewis : Out of the Silent Planet; part of his little known “Space Trilogy”.

24 çiçekçi August 1, 2009 at 6:22 am

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Çok çok güzel bir çalıºma iyi teºekkürler paylaºÄ±m için

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