Canals on Mars



News Item, 1877, Astronomer announces he sees Canals on Mars on his new telescope

*   * * * *

The Supreme Leader of the All-Planet Government called an emergency meeting of his Privy Council.  He explains “I called this special meeting for you to hear an extra-ordinary report from one of our near-space monitoring ships, number XX302.  Here is Captain R4D5, nickname Abner, go ahead, Abner, tell your story”.

Abner says “Well, sir, we were doing a routine patrol –– “   Leader interrupts “Better explain that, some of us are not up on the details of what a routine patrol might be.”

“Well sir, we have a couple of Droids who have learned the dominant language of some strange creatures on a near planet, code-named ‘Bluewater’. It is an amazing language with at least a hundred thousand words, seems to be an amalgam of a whole lot of more primitive languages, but with no referencing or indexing system—“  Leader interrupts again, “Yes, Yes, Abner, get on with it”.

“OK, so what we do is sort of an ‘Occupy Movement’, where we put our mind into theirs, without their knowing it of course, so we can see and hear and know what they are up to. They are a lively bunch of primitive beings, and very creative.  It is a bit of a disgusting operation, as their minds are mostly full of lusting after each other, they have this amazing habit they call ‘sex’ –“ Leader interrupts again, “Get back to the main story, Abner!”

“Right. Anyway, this trip their newspapers were full of a tale of an astronomer who has developed a primitive light-amplifying device they call a ‘telescope’.  Apparently it is powerful enough for them to see engineering detail on our planet.  Seems this astronomer could discern the old canals which the ancients left on the surface.  Some are poo – pooing him, after all  it is not that long since they thought their planet was flat, but others are quite excited about what they see as evidence of life on our planet.  Up to this point their accepted science is that they are the only life in the universe, after all, they are very primitive beings.”

Leader says “Thank you, Abner, you are excused”. “Thank you, sir”, from Abner, as he slithers out of the room, his three arm-tentacles writhing in time with his three leg-tentacles.

“Now”, says the leader, rolling his big black liquid-looking eyes around the room, “Some of our futurists predict that these strange beings on Bluewater might actually develop the ability to get out into space as far as our planet within a few centuries. It might be best if they continue to be unaware of our presence.  Anybody got a comment?”

The Minister of Works says “We don’t use those old canals since we moved all our food-producing activities into orbiting bubble-satellites. Actually we do not use the surface at all any more since we moved our cities underground.  Perhaps we should just fill those old canals up, camouflage where they have been; – they will call their astronomer a crank and forget the whole thing”.

Predictably, the Minister of Money says “That is going to cost a lot, where will we get the money?”

The Leader says “I think filling them up would be a wise move. My proposal would be we just cancel one of our deep space probes.  That will free up enough money for a small job like disguising our planet.  I am thinking we should cool it on those probes anyway, before one of those really big civilizations out there discovers we are here and takes us over.  Any more questions or comments?  How long do you think it will take to do the camouflage job?”

Minister of Works says “Oh, I think we can do it in say 5 years.”

“OK”, says the Leader, “That’s what we will do. Imagine the quarrels among those primitive creatures when they can’t see our canals anymore!  Meeting adjourned.”

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