If flying north was being written one hundred years from now, no one would even remember MySpace and Space itself would no longer be the final frontier. The site flyingnorth: navigating the twenty-second century world no doubt include space travel or at least sub-space travel as a major category.
This week, despite its lukewarm reception with some critics and its being touted as one of the biggest box office flops because after a few weeks it has only made $230+ million worldwide [??], I decided to see John Carter for a second time. I am a science fiction fan and a travel fan, and for me this film hit all the sweet spots with its combination of late nineteenth-century futuristic technology, a dash of Star Wars, a pinch of Indiana Jones, and a teaspoon of Stargate. Further, it looks beautiful in 3D.
Based on the 1917 Edgar Rice Burroughs book “The Princess of Mars,” the story centers on Civil War veteran John Carter who, through a series of events while in the Arizona Territory in the late nineteenth century, ends up waking up on the planet of Barsoom, which we later find out is actually Mars. Mars is shown as a dying but not yet dead planet, whose global seas have since dried up and many of its great structures lay in ruins. Upon learning that the inhabitants of Barsoom are bracing for a major conflict and that war appears inevitable, in classic Hollywood fashion John finds a new love on Mars, Dejah Thoris, Princess of the city of Helium [his first wife had been murdered on Earth] and helps her defend her city from its enemies. In the end he gets the girl.
While this synopsis seems quite boring, it is actually quite an action-packed film, but take note – your enjoyment will be enhanced significantly if you have knowledge of late nineteenth-century history, native American history and of Edgar Rice Burroughs. If you fantasize about traveling to the Moon or Mars this is your kind of film. In the mind of the adventure traveler there is no limit to location, and there will come a day when those locations include Mars.
We are currently experiencing the era of a nascent space travel industry. Up to this point it has cost anywhere from $20 to $35 million per person to take a personal space flight, but there are now a plethora of startup space tourist companies, including the high profile Virgin Galactic. For $200,000 you can experience a sub-orbital and eventually an orbital flight. Quite a savings indeed.
As I don’t really have the patience to wait until the prices come down, I was hoping that, like John Carter, I could just say “och ohem, och tay, wyees, Barsoom” and end up on Mars through teleportation. If I can figure this out in the next few days, I’ll be blogging next from Olympus Mons, looking up at the two moons of Phobos and Deimos, and pointing to a small spot of light in the sky that is Jarsoom [Earth].