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|Title:||"'Some Eden Lost in Space': The wider contexts of Frederick Philip Grove's 'The Legend of the Planet Mars' (1915)"|
|Keywords:||science fiction;Mars;Frederick Philip Grove|
|Abstract:||As an historian of science (especially of Darwinism), of theology, and of science fiction I have explored the question of extraterrestrial life for thirty-five years, focusing on Mars as a multidisciplinary case study for the past twenty. In my collecting and bibliographic work on the last two centuries of Martian material I noticed a curious paucity of Martian stories in Canadian literature (about which I am an amateur). There are thousands of post-1800 texts covering fictional, speculative, and non-fictional treatments of Mars, Martians, and voyages to and from the Red Planet. Not surprisingly, for a planet named after the Roman god of war, accompanied by two small satellites named for Mars’s twin sons, Deimos and Phobos, a great many stories imagined Mars as an alien landscape for wild adventure and pulpy battles and romances. Not unexpectedly, most of the primary sources I was gathering came from France, the U.K., Germany, Italy, and America. What about Canada? Apart from recent stories by Rob Sawyer—i.e., End of an Era (1994), “The Blue Planet” (1999), “Come All Ye Faithful” (2003), “Identity Theft” (2005), “Biding Time” (2006), and Red Planet Blues (2013)—and a few other examples, I was drawing blanks. Was Canada insulated from historic epidemics of international Martian mania? I’ve not been obsessive in my searching for Canadian sources; in matters Martian the scientific, theological, and literary action did lie elsewhere, after all. However, in searching my own files a few years ago, I came up with forgotten notes I’d made after a trip to Winnipeg about an unpublished poem set on Mars, written by Frederick Philip Grove (1879-1948), preserved in the University of Manitoba’s Archives, and dated “1915” i.e., two years after he began work on Consider Her Ways (1947), and two years before Edgar Rice Burroughs’s John Carter of Mars series (1917-1943). My paper will examine this century-old text which—like Rob Sawyer’s fresh, genre-blending stories—raises important human moral and religious questions from an imagined extraterrestrial perspective. “The Legend of the Planet Mars” deserves to be better known by Canadian sf readers as a neglected but worthy addition to the literature on Mars. An earlier, shorter and unpublished version of my paper was delivered at the Academic Conference on Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy at Toronto’s Merril Collection in 2005.|
|Appears in Collections:||Science Fiction: The Interdisciplinary Genre|
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