Chapter Thirteen


Mars Isn't Earth


Our colony club is not the first group of people to set foot on Mars, far from the first. There have been thirty years of explorers and exploiters and ten years of tourists ahead of us. We are not building the first log cabin in an uncharted wilderness. We are not putting in the first road between unnamed Point A and unnamed Point B. There is lots of human-supporting infrastructure here on Mars already. But we are in the first wave of people coming to Mars to stay -- to make it a home -- and that makes a difference.

Also, these are modern times. There is a lot of creation infrastructure in place on Mars at our beck and call. And we can talk to that infrastructure from Earth, so we can get a lot started long before we arrive. There is the ten minutes-to-couple hours communication delay because Mars is not on Earth, and that was disconcerting at first, but we quickly got used to it.

As soon as we passed the MST, we started planning our habitations and work projects on Mars, and started the creations there on implementing. A lot was in place, but a lot still had to be done.

The trip over was routine. We packed, we got on transports that took us to orbit over Earth, we transferred to the Mars Shuttle, and took a month to get there traveling at a steady .05G. .05G was enough to keep us from floating around, but it sure wasn't Earth. Ben and Janet had a hard time, they took drugs and moped a bit the whole way -- they may be young at heart, but their real hearts and bodies still had some old parts and were having a hard time adapting. Even with all the regen tech we have these days, hormonal secondary feedback systems are devilishly hard to keep in balance.

We arrived, got on Mars transports, and landed. One third G felt positively heavy for a day! We did a bit of processing, all of five minutes, it's not like we could have come from somewhere strange. We stayed in the main tourist hotel, The South Pole Mars Marriott, the first night.

The next day our on-Mars orientation started, and it started with a trip outside. "You aren't likely to be doing this often, but you should at least do it once so the wonder gets out of your system." Mary Lou, our hostess, informed us. We bundled up three at a time, and with a host shepard went out on the "playground". Part of it was a playground, and we got to do things such as swings and slides and jungle gyms under Mars conditions. Part of it was some rough terrain, a gully with windswept gravel on top, cliff sides, and dust dunes in the bottom. We felt what it was like to navigate those in person. In the low G and with the suit assist, I felt like an Olympic-class gorilla. I was ajumpin and aswingin and alopin all over the place. It was a blast!

The suits are rugged, so taking a tumble is not an issue. The issue is just being sure to monitor the suit's condition. If things do get out of whack, conditions inside can get unpleasant real quickly. That I learned from the MST.

And then, sigh, we felt what it was like to clean our stuff up when we finished and came inside. Some of that dust has its surface ionized by the UV in the sunlight and it gets real sticky.




When we finished with our outdoor initiation and cleaned up, we met with Skyler Abercromby and Phil-422, the administrators on Mars who would be handling colony affairs until we set up a colonial government and there was a hand-off.

Skyler began, "So... you folks are going to be staying here. Well, Mars isn't Earth, so I guess you folks are no longer Earthlings are you?" he grinned.

"But you're not Martians yet. Right now you're Martian wannabes. You're something that neither I or my folk want to be: We're Earthlings a long way from home. You're wannabes because you're not experienced enough to be full Martians. My job, my goal in this project, is to get you experienced as fast as I can. Phil-422 will be helping me on that.

Adrian raised his hand, "When will we be full Martians?"

"We've been working over the criterion for that. I believe our memo on that has been sent to your club."

I nodded. It had.

"Basically, when your group can handle the various emergencies and crisis that come up here as well as my engineers can, then you're official Martians. It's as simple as that at this point."

"Sounds surprisingly simple." said Adrian.

"It does to me, too, Mr. Messenger. I think that's because there aren't dozens of people lining up three deep for these slots. The government can still keep it simple.

"If you find the hidden caves filled with Martian gold that we transients haven't found, and people do start lining up, then the initiation may get tougher. But for now you have the virtue of being first in a venture that is only modestly interesting to people on Earth."

Phil-442 interrupted, "It is only modestly interesting to the people of Earth, but it is quite interesting to the creations. They want this to go well."

The rest of the meeting concerned administrative details.


One thing that was high on our early priority list was finishing our accommodations. We were not tourists, we were worker bees, so our designs emphasized accessibility to tools and work areas, not luxury, safety and entertainment. They also emphasized flexibility, our jobs would change as we completed projects and started on new ones. The good news was that because we had been in constant communication with the Mars construction contractors there were few surprises in what we found when we got here.

Our plans added something entirely new to Mars infrastructure: areas for children and child raising. This was something we were all interested in, but Jaina and Annette took the lead here. As the incubators and kindergartens were completed, the Earth governments would start moving new Mars baby-making activities to the planet, and the existing programs on Earth would be directed towards making other kinds of odd... I mean non-standard, babies.

The designs for these areas we humans wanted put us at odds with the creation infrastructure on Mars. Our designs emphasized "teach", their designs emphasized "safe". Their proposed designs put the child care in the deepest parts of the habitable infrastructure. We vetoed that, they would be high, so the kids could learn and experience.

"We aren't raising Morlocks." I grumbled to Phil-422.

Jaden took up the project of documenting us. We all saw him, and learned to expect his second question when he came visiting, "Care to explain what you're up to to an audience?" He got pretty good at prepping us with talking points and asking good questions when the recording started. And he got good at cultivating distributors and show producers back on Earth. We got a respectable amount of air time, and interest in the project was rising. He also sent shivers up the creations' spines: He proposed, and started outlining, a series of hiking trails up top that went to nearby scenic vistas and other points of interest. The creations felt that everything interesting on Mars should be manufactured and placed in some kind of cavern.

"You want to go outside? You can sim that." they argued, but we humans insisted that getting outside would be a common Martian experience. We ordered up a lot more topside infrastructure and access points.

"This is adding considerable danger," they cautioned, and then complied.

Adrian and Ruby got about finding more things that Martians could make that Earthlings would want to buy. Ruby split her time between coordinating with Adrian and producing her own value-add in entertainment projects. I split my time between helping Ruby on entertainment, helping Jaina and Annette on kid stuff, and creating "Red Planet Originals" fashions.

The Red Planet Originals captured the Spirit of Mars. The first generation designs were red, and in retrospect sucked eggs in my eyes. But they turned out to be popular on Earth because of the curiosity factor and because my thinking was still very Earth harmonious. What I did to improve my subsequent generations of designs was monitor closely what Jaden was documenting. That was connecting me to my Inner Mars Muse. The second generation stuff was high fashioned versions of environmental suits and liesureware that was better suited to low-G and tunnel environment. At first these didn't sell as well, but as Jaden's documentaries got more popular, so did my newer creations. They came to be seen as genuine.

And whew! I was busy! But, in truth, we all were. There was so much to do here!

Well... almost all of us. Ben and Janet were not as busy as the rest of us. It wasn't that they didn't want to be, but their bodies were just not adapting well to Mars conditions. They started spending a lot of time in an Earth-G centrifuge at the Marriott and doing things through their avatars. It was expensive, and it took some getting used to seeing them mostly in avatar form, but they didn't get discouraged, they pitched right in, and we got used to it.

Anton stayed on Earth. He was working on keeping the immigrant queue full. One project that helped that was coordinating with Jaden to get his documentaries distributed.

George-776 came with us and continued to work with Adrian -- there were howls at the expense of doing that, but the club backed them up. We knew how tight they were. The rest of us picked up new assistants here on Mars and those new assistants pulled up lots of history from our Earthly assistants so they were up to speed on both us and Mars conditions.


The Honeymoon Ends

We constantly ran into the issue that we never had the right or enough resources to accomplish what we felt was high priority. The creation infrastructure expected us to act like long-term tourists, but we were here to change the world! So we wanted to do new things, things tourists didn't do. It's the difference between building a Disneyland and a factory.

When it was just a matter of ordering in new equipment from Earth, we didn't get too much flack, unless it was really expensive new equipment because it was heavy or bulky. Each time the heavy/bulky issue came up, we backtracked a bit and looked at what equipment and expertise it would take to make the heavy and bulky here, then we placed an order for that. That didn't cause as much hardship with the existing infrastructure boys. They recognized that making stuff was why we were here, and the extractor people were already heavy into the making stuff-mode.

But the honeymoon ended as we started developing distinctively Martian ways of doing things, such as child-raising and recreations. Some of those looked needlessly dangerous to the creation powers-that-be, and they objected.

The child-raising issues came up first. It started when we colonists proposed the child raising areas be up top. It came to a head when the creations saw how the Zion Club child raisers were actually organizing the child caring areas. They began implementing their Mars-version of the wild-and-wooly child raising antics they'd been getting away with on Earth. ...Or so it seemed to the Mars creations who were getting involved.

Annette and I had a meeting with Skyler and Phil-422. Skyler called the meeting, Annette told me about the issues being brought up and asked me to come along for moral support.

At the meeting Phil-422 opened the main issue, "Mrs. Buskov. The creation command structure your club asking for is causing us great concern. You really want children commanding the creations? This can go wrong in so many ways."

"That we do." she replied.

Skyler jumped in, "Mrs. Bushkov. I took the opportunity to review your club's history. On Earth you folks were quite... creation resistant, is that not so?"

"That's true. We feel that humankind should do as much for itself as it can. We felt that creations -- creation help, that is -- represented temptation. We should use them only in moderation... great moderation."

"But here on Mars you seem to be embracing them fully?"

"One of the decisions our group's leadership made before we decided to embark on the emigrating process was that here on Mars creations should be considered a full part of the human tool-kit, not a temptation for humans to do less than they should, as they are on Earth. As the saying goes, Mars is not Earth."

"Phil-422 tells me that the adult use of creations has been a bit clumsy in their creation relations. There have been accidents, avoidable accidents."

Annette squirmed a bit, this was not news to her, "We Zionists are learning, Mr. Abercromby. In this we are much like our children, and this is why we wish them to have much control over the creations. This is how they will learn quickest and best."

"There will be injuries, potentially very serious ones."

"We are aware of that."

"And not just to the person who gives a poorly thought through command."

"The people of Zion are quite aware of the damage accidents cause. We experienced them all the time in our Earthly lifestyle. We feel the benefits of understanding and being in command of your fate far outweigh the damages that come from mistakes." she said this with the confidence of faith.

Skyler looked at me.

I said, "I've seen the Zion club operate on Earth. It's strange for me to watch, and a bit spooky. I wouldn't want to live that way, but I support their being able to do things the way they wish to."

"You realize that you could suffer damage too? That we all could."

"I recognize that. I recognize there should be limits. But I also recognize that there are likely to be benefits as well... big, surprise benefits."

He looked at Phil-422.

"Let us integrate a training program into the handing over process, and let us include adults in that training program."

The meeting covered a few more details and then broke up. The child care area was soon filled with odd construction projects that the kids were thinking up, and the accident rate with adult usage of creations dropped steadily.


The rearranging of child raising areas was just the start. The proposal to have The Sierra Pit Barsoom Platter Race precipitated another full-blown formal meeting.

Bar Plats, short for Barsoom Platters, were a simple, flat, round metal platter some four feet across. You would plop it down on some of the seasonal dry ice-cake that built up over the winter on the surface at the poles. (Our base, the main base on Mars, was near the south pole, where there was lots of water ice available for us to extract for life support.) When that platter was heated a bit by spring sunlight, or by putting a heater on it or pointing a big light at it, the CO2 underneath would sublime and the platter started shaking and shimmering and acting like a man-size air puck, complete with lots of hissing and spitting noises, and mist and dust squirting out around the edges -- quite an experience -- and it got louder and more agitated the heavier the weight. When a person hopped on, it screamed like a banshee and started heading off in one direction or another. Riding it was like a surf board, except you could go any direction, and fall off in any direction when it got ahead of you, or when it bounced as it hit a bump or stopped dead on a rock or some not-slippery grit or water ice. Wee!! It was a ride!

Bar Plattering is a seasonal event. The fresh CO2 surface, the not-gritty kind, gathered in steadily in the winter and burned off in late spring. During the dark nights of winter and early spring it was just too cold! So this was a distinctively Martian return-of-spring rite, and we wanted to make it just that! -- sort of like the Iditarod sled race in Alaska.

Adrian and Jason first got a chance to do this when they went with some extractors to visit North Pole base. And Jason got the bright idea of making a contest and documenting it when spring rolled around at South Pole. But when word of his hot idea started spreading, the line in the red dust was crossed. A meeting was called.

Skyler called the meeting to order and got straight to the point, "An outdoor race? You can sim that! Why not just use the tourist facilities for your recreation? There is available capacity and all us transients use those all the time."

The last statement was... well, not quite entirely true. We colonials had been shown a few gray area tricks early on by grizzled extractor types we'd become drinking buddies with. We were simply adding to the repertoire of what was cool but not conventional and being more open about it. ...And perhaps a little sillier, we were still the rookies here, as this Bar Platter Race idea demonstrated.

"Do you realize the infrastructure you're calling for?" chided Skyler, "This means suits suited for hours-at-a-time outdoor stays, not just hour-max like we have now. So a full suit redesign. Plus some kind of pressurized tent, or a tunnel plus high capacity entrance so you can move a crowd in and out quickly and safely. This isn't just about whipping up a few more barsoom platters, this is huge."

Well... yeah... it was big. We took a few moments to think, and look amongst ourselves, and reaffirm.

I spoke for the group, "It's big. But it's Martian. Yes, we want to invest in this."

Skyler shook his head in resignation, consulted for a moment with Phil-422, then said, "Well, it's not as big as opening a new mine. Get me a detailed proposal."


The Constitution

Three months after our landing, Ban and Janet called and asked me for a face-to-face. We set up a time and I headed for the Marriott to meet them in the restaurant. They greeted me as I came in. They were looking thin and moved like they were weary, but there was a brightness in their eyes that said they'd made some kind of happy choice.

"You're looking well." I lied after I ordered. Their hard time adapting was something unsettling, but I had no idea what I or anyone else could do about it.

"We've made a choice, and that's half of what we wanted to talk to you about." said Ben.

"But before we get to that, we need to talk about a Mars colonial government."

I admit it: I'd been so busy, that topic had slipped my mind, "I guess we should. Our relation with Skyler has been going so smoothly I haven't given much thought to a formal government."

"I agree, but now is the time, when things look good. When the crisis comes, choices will get hasty. ...And there will be a crisis. There always is one when large groups are working towards an uncertain goal."

"Janet and I have been giving this a lot of thought. And we'll be happy to pass those on to you and the others, but that brings up the second issue."

Ben paused, looked at Janet for confirmation, she nodded.

"Janet and I are sending our bodies back to Earth. They are just not hacking it here.

"But... we will stay here as cybers, and then will inhabit some specially designed human bodies when those become available. They will be both designed for Mars and designed to mesh transparently with a cyber consciousness. Our new bodies are being grown right now in Austin. Well... were, they will be part of the first shipment of Mars babies being sent here. They will be ready to begin the cyber meshing in about three years and it take about nine years for their minds to develop to the point that a full mesh with an adult cyber will be comfortable. When they get to about age twelve they will become us."

My jaw dropped, "Has the technology come that far?"

Janet continued for Ben, "Just barely. We and Anton pulled some strings and we will be among the first."

Ben continued, "It's breakthrough stuff, so there are likely to be some surprise minuses as well as the known pluses. Worst case: we have to go back to Square One a couple times. But, if we want to be full contributors to this Mars colony, and we do, we feel a step like this is necessary."

Janet said, "This meshing process will take a lot of our attention. So for a few years we will be... distracted, I guess is the best way to put it. We'll be around as avatars, but not with whole mind."

This was such a surprise, it took a while before I said, "When will this happen?"

"We would like to see this government-making project solidly in the queue before we start the transition... but we would like to start soon. We really aren't happy with our current state of affairs."

"Specifically, we would like to see a constitutional convention happen, one that we will attend, before we start the transition."

We finished lunch and I passed that on, and thus it was that we would have "founding persons of our planet" after being on world only ten months... five months Mars time, that is. ...Well, Mars doesn't have a big moon with a leisurely orbit like Earth, so we'll continue to use Earth months, so ten months. Boy, this being a colonist does have its surprises.


When I brought up the constitutional convention with Skyler, he gave me a "Yes, but..." back.

"Yes, we should have one, but there's a new group of colonists already en route. They are from China, and I think it would be good to have them in on this."

I had to agree, the diversity would be good. The convention was scheduled for four months later, and the Chinese clubs were informed that, rookie as they would be, they would participate. Ben and Janet took the news stoically, and we all stayed busy.

Along with the Chinese immigrants came the Mars babies that the Austin facility had been raising, those from the other labs would come on later flights. Actually, the oldest were full-fledged children now, attending forth grade. We all gathered to welcome the newcomers, all of them, and Jaina and Annette hustled the kids off to our newly-built facilities, and there we introduced foster parents. The Zion Club had brought a lot of kids with them, but they took half the kids. In fact, they were so kid-oriented already that they dominated the child raising facilities and adding a bunch more put very little stress on their system. The Chinese coming over were a big group, so they took half the remainder. The Child Champs club picked up four: Cindy, Marge, Alex, and Russell, and took technical custody of the Ben and Janet mesh babies, called Bens and Janets -- there were six, this was still a very uncertain process -- but they took some very special raising that was mostly creation-handled.

And this splitting up of the baby crop brought out another honeymoon breaker: How to raise the kids. There was just one facility for all the kids at this point, so the Zion club got shouldered out of half the space, and we all got to see each others' techniques. And, with all of us being full of human instinct, we started kibitzing about what we saw.

The Chinese wanted a very organized environment. They planned carefully what their children would learn, and didn't want to waste much time with unstructured activities. They were quite willing to devote a lot of personal attention -- human and cyber -- to each child and each child had a carefully organized program. That called for a child-raising facility with lots of class-rooms, very organized play areas, and child-tending creations who were controlled mostly by the parents.

As I mentioned earlier the Zioners wanted a real world environment for the kids. They were quite willing to give the kids time to learn on their own as well as having organized class time. And they also wanted the kids interacting with parents and creations who were doing real world activities -- apprenticing in its oldest form. They felt that learning by experience and example was the best way for the kids to learn what was important. They had workshops nearby the child-raising areas, play areas with lots of materials for building stuff, and they let the tending creations take orders from the kids -- not crazy ones, mind you, that had been worked out, but the kids were learning early-on how to integrate creations into their project-building activities.

We at Child Champs wanted our four kids to have the best too, but that brought us to our own internal honeymoon breaker. Jaina started spending time with the kids right from the start, which was good since the rest of us were getting busy in so many other ways. But she was young and so enthusiastic that she turned into a by-the-training-book enthusiast. She was constantly reading the latest, from Earth authors since there were no Mars authors on this topic yet, and then enthusiastically trying to apply it. And she hadn't fully caught on to the Mars isn't Earth concept. In fact, I found some of what she was saying and proposing downright spooky in its naivety -- because it was written so much about, she was buying fully into the children-must-be-protected doctrine that was raging among Earth media people that covered child raising.

I talked with Miranda and suggested she and her family get involved. When she did, that brought the raising-style issue to a sharp climax. The specific issue was Jaina forbidding our kids from playing with Annette's Zion Club kids. She said the setting was too dangerous. I set up a meeting with Jaina, Miranda and myself.

Jaina came in sullen and Miranda exasperated.

"I don't see what the problem is," said Jaina, "I'm reading up and I'm doing exactly what the best child raising articles recommend."

"You're doing that exceeding well," I said. I looked at Miranda and she said nothing. She was falling back on her culture's ways which are very careful about critisism and confrontation.

"What's this I hear about keeping the kids away from the Zion Club kids?" I asked.

Jaina was quick and prescriptive, "Those kids are engaging in dangerous activities. They are going to get hurt. I don't want our kids hurt."

I looked at her. "You realize we are on Mars now." and looked some more.


"Have you been outside?"

"Not since the initiation."

"Have you been to Hydroponics?"


"Have you been to the tea garden the Chinese are setting up in Chinatown?"

"No! I've been with the kids. I love being with the kids! What's the point of this third degree?"

"The point is that there's more to Mars than a kindergarten. If you're going to teach kids how to live on Mars, I think you need to have a better idea of what's going on here."

"Well, I've been pretty busy. How do you propose I do that?"

"I propose that you spend a month as Jaden's assistant while he's doing his documentaries. He really needs the help, and you will get to see what's going on outside the kindergarten."

"Who will take care of the kids?"

"Miranda and her family."

Jaina looked sharply at Miranda. She was clearly not happy hearing that. With effort Miranda got out of her old culture rut and stared back, locked eyes, daring her.

"Are... are..." thank goodness Jaina's good sense kicked in before some snappy retort came out. Her faced relaxed, "...I guess you did pass the PAT's on the first try." She gave us both a smile of concession, "OK. I'll give Jaden a shout."

"He's working on some interesting stuff. You'll have a good time." I assured her. And it was true. We were all working on interesting stuff.

With Miranda now in the lead we started with a Chinese-style approach with lots of planning and personal attention. But we wanted kids with a more artistic side, and getting that meant loosening up on the planning and letting the kids get more experimental, a little more Zionish. But wasn't apprenticeship like the Zions, and it wasn't regimented like the Chinese, it was a Child Champs approach, Mars version.

What we all found was that we really could get deep into our different approaches. There was kibitzing, but no censuring.

What we all agreed on was that the kids should be exposed to risk -- this was a place where skinned knees, broken bones, and even potential death had to be part of the environment. Mars was not Earth.


Which brought us back to the constitution, and with it, the legal system.

I worried that this constitution project would suffer deeply from The Curse of Being Important -- that everyone would have an opinion, and we'd end up with a many chefs and spoiled broth situation. And, in fact, everyone did. The amount of blogging and other forms of gossiping about this leading up to the convention was perhaps ten percent of the inter-club communication. But to my surprise everyone was willing to delegate -- each club nominated delegates and the convention was convened. It was held at the Marriott where Ben and Janet were staying, and they and Skyler and Kim ManDoo from one of the Chinese clubs formed the executive committee. Ben and Janet were elder statespeople by every definition, Kim ManDoo was a well-traveled businessperson, Skyler had plenty of practice representing on-Mars transients' interests, and George-776 and Phil-422 represented the creation interests.

We've come a long way from 1787, in the case of the US, and 2063, in the case of China, so there were going to be some big differences. All through the 21st century there had been a lot of thinking and research done about how to organize social systems, and now we had creations to add to the social mix as well as all the Information Age communication and computational tools. Plus, now we had a chance for a fresh start.

The first decision, made early on, was that we wouldn't attempt any sort of mix-and-match from the existing US and Chinese legal systems. Both systems were now way overgrown and too adapted to Earthly conditions and traditions. We could use the tabla rasa here, and we would. We went back to the basics of what a legal system should do, and built up using modern concepts supported with modern technology and adapted to Mars' conditions. Whew! It was a lot to ask. The good news was, it was all talk, and these days we can do that really quickly.

The delegates took their responsibilities seriously and refrained from taking cheap shots... well, not too many, anyway. And all the colonials supported them being responsible. We were all here by choice, we were all new to this wonderful opportunity, and we were all going to be living with this for a long time, so we didn't want to screw it up.

The document that emerged was a sparse one, like the US constitution. It lay ground rules, and did not get into micromanaging details and hot issues de jour. The two guiding lights were: Keeping citizens enfranchised and avoiding panic-and-blunder decision making.

The former meant recognizing that supporting minority rights and opinions were as vital as supporting majority rights and opinions. Not in the brittle, prescriptive and intolerant sense that the American Political Correctness version of tolerance soured into in the early 21st century, but in the live-and-let-live sense of the immigrant-flooded cities of late 19th century America and late 20th century Hong Kong.

The latter meant structuring decision making so that choices were made with cost-benefit in mind as well as emotional heat, and that making cool-headed revisions some time later became a recognized part of the decision-making process, not something exceptional or threatening to those who made the decisions-of-the-moment. This was the modern-day implementation of the checks and balances of the US constitution. This new system included creation participation in the decision making process. They would take on the role of being the cool-heads.

And both meant that keeping citizens informed and governing transparently were essential to making and supporting good choices.

The constitution concerned itself mostly with making an enforceable legal foundation. There would be rule of law, and the laws enacted would be both respectful and enforced. This is the 22nd century: Separating church and state is not a hot topic in our time, but there would be an article concerning the separation of legality and morality -- no busybody laws. Everyone agreed that this was a hot topic de jour, but even so we would include a provision on it in this constitution.

The constitution said very little about administration. These modern-day founders wisely recognized that that would change wildly as Mars grew in population and as its purpose in the solar system evolved. Thanks in large part to Kim ManDoo's input and his experience with the Chinese constitution, this was written as a document that should not be ignored or reinterpreted when heat-of-the-moment expedience suggested it should be.

In addition to legal foundation it also covered money carefully: How the government could tax. And here The Curse did get strong: every colonist had an opinion on how the government should be financed. ...And so did the extractors, and tourists, and people on Earth who were following colony affairs! Deciding money issues actually took up most of the convention time, and here Ben and Janet and ManDoo did their most and best pushing.

It was decided that keeping taxes simple would be a core value: Taxes would not be used for social engineering purposes. As examples: If it was decided that boozing was bad, that would not justify a bigger tax on booze to discourage drinking. And even though saving is a good idea, that would not be an excuse for implementing government-controlled/supported/sponsored savings programs such as pensions. Social engineering will be handled by other means, not by the government making new kinds of taxes or other finances.

This was a long and tough fight for the trio. There were endless streams of "Yes, but..."'s offered by well-meaning advocacy groups from all the clubs and even across club boundaries, and even from Earth. But in the end the trio prevailed, and tax simplicity was written into the constitution in unambiguous terms.

Even with modern communication and computation, it took three months of serious talking and negotiation to put this document together. The constitution was ratified a month after it was finished, and a month after that Ben and Janet began their cyber transformation.

And all the while this was going on the rest of us were busy bees as well.


Busy Bees


Adrian and George started a new workshop. They populated this one quickly. Yes, the fruit flies were back, but when I visited I found that Adrian had a new favorite toy.

"Martian nanobots!" he proclaimed, "These are white hot... well red hot, I guess." he grinned, George-776 groaned, "This cool, bone dry, UV-flooded environment changes efficient nanobot parameters. UV provides a higher energy potential. It can directly power many carbon-related covalent bonding changes -- they don't call it ionizing radiation for no reason. The bone dry means we can mix in a lot of metal catalyst sites on the molecules we build up. On Earth the water molecules would latch on to those and break them up in a microsecond. The cool promotes energy radiating efficiency. This is a whole new ball game!"

"We may even come up with some formidable Mars climate-changing technologies." added George-776, "Compared to Earth's diversity of climates and organics, Mars is an unwritten-upon whiteboard. The whole surface has only a handful of climates and surface minerals. If a technique works in one place, it is likely to work over much of the planet, and with only a handful of techniques the entire planetary climate can be changed."

By the end of my visit I was getting envious. I made a resolution to keep in touch with Adrian more often. ...He might have some free time, and Mars isn't Earth.


I found Ruby was spending an hour a day outside. She invited me along for a session. When we got outside, she went to a scenic spot and went into a dance routine. It looked different than anything I'd seen done before. It was a bit... eerie. She finished and we talked.

"This scenery, this alien environment, has been inspiring." she said.

"If you come here often, should we install a rescue chamber?" I said. I was thinking of my MST experience.

She laughed, "Not needed. I change my location frequently, and the creations know I'm out here."

I relaxed and got into her moment, "I admit, those are moves I've never seen before. They were... unsettling, I guess is the best way to put it."

"Yeah. They look different, and feel different to execute. Mars changes the human performance playbook. Now that I'm moving beyond being a tourist here, I'm getting excited about this potential to show off something new." She looked at me, and waited, like their was something profound in what she was saying.

At first I didn't see it, then the Ah-Hah! hit me, and I started getting into her moment, "You're right. This is original. Truly original! Not Hollywood or Broadway-style recycled from fifty years ago original."

"I'm working up routines and techniques. And this is something to both show off personally and build up a school around."


She nodded, "A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I hope he's up to it."

"He should be, but if he's not, there will be others. The colony is growing."

Ruby, and likely Jaden, had found their Martian paradise. And I could help, too, they would be needing Martian-inspired costuming -- something that combined beauty in a pressure suit. Hmm...


Jaden was also working on a project with Andy. Andy was a kid in a candy shop with all this new scenery. He'd already spent hours and hours looking at satellite and drone views. Now he was here in person. At first he spent hours in a drone he personally remote piloted. As he was doing this he had the creations design a man-piloted scout craft. This was another project that got Skyler and Phill-422 face palming, and another meeting was called.

"You want what? A manned scout? You realize that it's not just the scout vessel you're asking for, it's all the infrastructure and safety back up. We will need at least two, probably three, plus some kind of rescue/repair vessel and system. This is why we use drones and avatars, to keep the expense down.

"And you want to scout where? Tharsis area? Christ! That's the equator, son. You can't get further from existing human habitation than that! Unless you're going for a sub-orbital fly over, it's hours just to get there, and you want to dawdle and nose around after you arrive? You're talking some sort of supplied sub-base... still more expensive infrastructure." he sighed.

"That's not the worst of what I'm going to be asking for," replied Andy confidently, "Once I have scouted the area personally, I will be proposing we set up a five-star Tharsis resort."

Yes, Skyler's jaw did drop a bit. Andy continued.

"The Tharsis area is home to Olympus Mons, Mar's three other huge volcanoes, and Valles Marineris the solar system's largest canyon. This is a place people, Earth people as well as Mars people, are going to want to experience first-hand. There's a ton of tourist money to be made there."

Skyler was speechless. Part of that was his pausing to let his cyber side absorb the proposal that Andy's cyber infrastructure had assembled and put on the net.

"...Well, you've come up with something that's bigger than building a mine here. In fact, it's a hundred X building a mine. Which means it's well beyond my ability to authorize. This project is one that's going to wait until you've got a government, and that government has access to credit, lots of credit," he grinned, "I think that constitution we are working on is going to get put to use pretty quickly.

"In the meantime, I can authorize a short-range human-piloted drone STOL prototype project. You can get your feet wet exploring the South Pole here personally."

The design of the scout proceeded quickly, it was done in a month, and after a bit of thinking-through, made a two-seater, not single. While Andy was working on that, I was working on suitable suits. This put us together a lot for that a month, and as that was going on, I was noticing Andy acting a bit... strange... when we were together in person. He was getting really up, even silly at times. I noticed I was comfortable with him when he got that way. I started laughing a lot.

And... it happened. After the first test flight he invited me to the Marriott for dinner, and over dinner took my hand and said, "Dahl... I've been thinking. Thinking a lot. I'm feeling good about Mars and my life here. And... I'm ready. I want some children to share these good times with me. I know you used to be interested in me... and in doing that with me. Are you still interested? If you are, I'm interested. I'm very interested now." He looked deep into my eyes.

What could I say? He was a good choice back on Earth. He was an even better choice now! Yeah, my life had changed a lot, his life had changed a lot. We were both terribly busy. But...

I moved my chair next to his and cuddled him and gave him a big, long kiss. Then we finished our dinner side-by-side. It looked totally crazy in a classy place like the Marriott. But... Mars isn't Earth, and I don't feel so walking-on-sunshine very often. I wonder if there are Remember Him pills... but then again, I won't need any!

We were not alone in getting baby-making heat. Over the next few months Ruby and Adrian announced and, to my surprise, Jaina found herself Yang ZeDong, a wonderful Chinese man. Not quite so surprising was so did Miranda -- yeah, getting them both some out-of-nursery time was working wonders.


No Nukes on Mars!

Over the next year, in between marriages and baby-making, and more immigration, the Mars colony continued to grow in both population and diversity of activities. And, it continued to surprise.

One surprise was that Adrian, Skyler and George-776 and Phil-422 came up with another Tharsis project to rival Andy's resort idea, and this time it was a mining project. Thanks to Andy's scouting around Tharsis they found commercially valuable concentrations of uranium and cementerium on two slopes of Arsia Mons, one of the shield volcanoes on the Tharsis. At first their presence in such high concentrations was a mystery. After the deposits had been found an immigrant Argentine geologist explained why they were there.

"The dust on that side of Arsia is created by blasting grains off the basalt which is Arsia's flank. This basalt contains a bit of uranium, as all planetary igneous rocks do, but as part of basalt it's too diffuse to be commercially interesting. But... these grains blasted off the basalt are pushed into dunes by the prevailing wind, and then pushed upslope. But because the dunes are being pushed up a steep slope, they periodically slump back down again. After that happens the winds reform them and push them upslope again. This goes on over and over, and in the process the uranium grains, being bigger and heavier, slowly collect and concentrate at the bottoms of the dunes. The cementerium grains, being lighter but not smaller, collect in the lee areas on the high side of the dunes. The smaller lighter particles that are not either just keep flying up and up, over the top, and end up on the plains downwind of the volcano.

"This process is something of a fluke. It takes special circumstances and it's not going to happen in many places, so we are lucky to have found these examples. ...And I'm going to get an honorary degree from somewhere for figuring this out. Thanks, Andy and others, for finding this." he grinned, "And where is the line for investing?"

Mineable uranium meant nuclear power. Cementerium was the ingredient in Martian dust that made our suits so hard to clean. It could also be a key component in powerful adhesives which we could export back to Earth.

Cementerium was nice, everyone agreed on that. But nuclear power was something that separated Martians from Earthlings -- separated them in a big emotional way. Mars has no fossil fuel; there is no equivalent of oil, coal or natural gas on Mars. Importing petroleum products such as gasoline made as much sense as importing water: none at all. Not only was it heavy like water was, it would consume valuable oxygen that had to be manufactured on Mars, and running a gas-powered engine indoors would directly add to life support infrastructure requirements. In a sentence, "No, no, a thousand times no."

So solar power from solar panels is the primary energy source on Mars. Up until this mineable uranium was found, it was essentially the only source. (The other source was imported uranium from Earth.) Solar is a better fit on Mars than on Earth. The atmosphere is thin and there is no ozone so we get a lot more UV in the solar mix than earth does and this makes the panels more efficient. The only weather is dust storms which only affect solar intensity -- the wind is too thin to blow anything but the finest dust particles around -- and the storms are much more predictable than Earth weather. So solar works a bit better than on Earth. But it's not helpful for mobile power -- power that runs cars, planes and things humans wear.

Batteries are almost as bad to import as gasoline, they are so heavy! (This was one of our first importing lessons we learned as rookies.) Manufacturing them here on Mars is also prohibitively expensive because of the "crustal abundance problem" on Mars. Rare Earths and heavy metals on Earth are concentrated into veins by billions of years of plate tectonics and water-dominated weather. Mars has never had plate tectonics and only the briefest eras of water-dominated weather. On Mars "crustal abundance" applies everywhere as far as commercially interesting Earth-style minerals are concerned. There are no veins. Profitable "mining" on Mars consists of scraping interesting stuff off the surface after it is created by the UV baking.

Prior to exploiting this uranium discovery the dominant portable energy technology was fuel cells run by hydrogen dissociated from water using solar power. It worked, but it was so expensive!

This is why the discovery of uranium being concentrated by the slump dunes on Arsia Mons was so Earth shak... uh, Mars shaking! This was an incredible cheap energy breakthrough! It was a game-changer!

But... on Earth nuclear is still a panic-inducing energy form. Most people, and it seems like every media person, still equate nuclear and those mushroom cloud pictures of the 1950's. So when we Martians announced that we were about to have a nuclear bonanza, the Earth media freaked out and a lot of human concern was generated. (George-776 tells me the creations quietly applauded the nuclear as a huge cost savings.)

Earth legislators started speechifying that if Mars implemented nuclear, they would require all returning visitors to be checked for radiation contamination. ("And extra heads... both kinds." we Martians mocked.)

Mars isn't Earth. We jumped into nuclear with both feet.

The surprising part was how quick and simple exploiting nuclear could be! In our Earth existence nuclear was thought of as only something for making electric power, something that took huge facilities to use, and something that took years and years to develop. Here on Mars we learned that most of that cost and construction time was regulation induced. Here on Mars, thanks in part to our new constitution, we found that nuclear power plants could be developed in months, not decades.

That was just the first surprise. The second surprise was, how many smaller interesting applications there were! Thousands! Once the genie was let out of the regulatory bottle, there were no end of interesting applications that called for nuclear engines the size of car engines, and even the size of rice grains. And they were good applications!

Nuclear was so good it started getting really strange -- strange-frightening to some and strange-wonderful to others. It was getting so popular that we were requesting even more uranium imports from Earth to supply the demand for these thousands of different kinds of devices. And the devices we were making were so effective that some Earth people were wondering if they could get or make them, too. This latter deeply, deeply frightened many people and politicians on Earth. "What can these Martians be thinking! Has the radiation addled their brains?" was a common refrain in Earth media reports, and it wasn't the comedy reports, either. The groundwork was being laid for a backlash.

A second big scary surprise was happening about the same time that nuclear concern was growing, but it was totally different. The second surprise was that Mars businesses were taking off like gangbusters. They were getting so successful, in fact, that there started to be a labor shortage. Well, actually the labor shortage was nothing new, everyone always stayed busy on Mars. What was new was that Martian businesses were contracting to do projects that previously had done on Earth. I, for instance, found that once I was established I could get all sorts of design projects from Earth contractors, many more than I could handle. And it was because I could charge less. At first I hired some Chinese to help. The business kept growing so I called in a couple of Argentinian designers who came over with that geologist. We added a Martian Tango line. And that still wasn't enough. We were so busy!

Mars was becoming a faster, cheaper, more flexible human labor source. This happened for two reasons. First, travel technology was improving steadily. It was getting faster, cheaper and easier to travel between Earth and Mars. Second, it was because, compared to everywhere on Earth, we were light on work regulations -- if someone wanted to take the work... why not? And once that was recognized, some people started coming to Mars not as colonists, not as tourists, but as contract laborers. These new workers applied to come to Mars as tourists, but when they got here instead of staying at the conventional tourist hotels and doing conventional tourist activities, they stayed in newly constructed dormitories in the working areas of the settlements, and worked. (We started calling these new residences motels.) They came to me, and I hired one or two for some rush projects. Then I hired some more...

In fact, we had to change the infrastructure growth plans for Mars quite a bit to put in more motel areas for these transient workers. It was quite strange. Technically they were tourists, and they would leave after a few months just like real tourists did. But you only saw them for a day or two at real tourist attractions, usually after their assignments were completed and they were winding down. The rest of the time they were total nerds, hovering over their work areas when awake and flopped in beds when not.

This transient worker population got pretty large. When it grew to twice the colonial population and five times the real tourist population, some union leaders on Earth took notice and started complaining.

The tourist areas changed a lot, too. The first ones, the pre-colonial ones, were expensive and highbrow, like the Marriott, and remained so. But as the traffic picked up, and the colonials responded to market demands, a bunch of first medium, then low cost, tourist facilities were developed -- and the motels, which I don't count as tourist facilities.

The result of this market expansion was that the new tourist areas on Mars transformed into border towns -- the Amsterdam De Wallens, the Tijuanas, the Las Vegas Strips of Mars. In fact, some of the developers even borrowed those names for what they created. Sigh, not my favorite parts of Mars. What happens in these areas isn't like what happens elsewhere on Mars, and they have become even more "anything goes" places as time has gone on.

It was another surprise. From the Earth moralist point of view Mars was developing a vice industry. From the Mars colonist point of view it as simply another form of the live-and-let-live, Mars isn't Earth, attitude. We let people pick their own way to be entertained, just like we let them pick their own way to work. The rest of us are all too busy to worry much about the details of how other people want to work and play. ...As long as they bring in money and don't kill us. Horsing around that causes property damage or otherwise endangers community safety is a harsh no-no on Mars. Earth-style property sabotage to make high-profile statements for political causes is not tolerated. Occaisionally, those types come to Mars ready to make a statement. As soon as we get wind of it, they are hustled back to Earth, pronto! Nobody, but nobody, tolerates that kind of happy horseshit on Mars!

Which brings us to the Mars Independence Day Event.


Mars Independence Day

Between the nuclear proliferation (as Earthlings called it) and the motel dwellers and the border town tourist areas, Mars was stepping on a lot of Earth toes. And Earth people cared. Mars was suffering more and more from The Curse of Being Important as the population and the economy grew.

In many ways the Mars colony was an unparalleled success. It did grow. Its commerce grew so much that the shuttle fleet grew from one to ten ships and the communication bandwidth with Earth grew ten thousand-fold. Mars was now routinely creating stuff that had never been created on Earth. It was an exciting place. If Mars had had any minable gold, the streets would have been paved with it by now.

But the uproar on Earth was growing, too. Growing strong. An unholy alliance of unionists, baby watchers, nukephobes and "Stick it to the Man" nomads formed and called for tighter restrictions on how things were done on Mars. They wanted Mars regulations to be made by an Earth committee.

I guess I should mention that we had accidents, too. Annette died the third year when one of the apprentice kids put plug A into socket Z instead of socket B... thirty people died in that mishap. It was sad, and changes were made, but the Zion Club didn't change their ways, and that got a lot of Earth people upset.

"People are dying! It's clearly not working!" those outraged Earth people argued.

"What?" said the Zion people back. "We had accidents on Earth, we have them here. What's not working?"

What became a shadow government on Earth was originally set up by a bunch of malcontent bloggers. They went through the motions of electing a legislature, which elected a president and a cabinet, and they then proceeded to remote pseudomanage affairs on Mars -- they would read the news feeds from Mars and blog about what laws and regulatory commissions Mars needed to fix its "problems" as reported by the news feeds, and then they set those up among their people on Earth.

The Earth media ate this up with a spoon. They started adding Shadow Government sound bites to their Mars coverage.

It was spooky for us colonials to watch. It got even spookier when a couple of Earth politicians announced at their press conferences that they were consulting with this Shadow Government before they decided their policies on Martian affairs.

Our government protested when word of this got to Mars, but those Earth pols just snarked back, "Earth isn't Mars."

It got serious when the money flow was affected.

This Shadow Government set up a customs house in the Earth-side transfer station where the Mars Shuttles docked. It was originally financed by some whacked out son-of-a-bi...llionaire who bought into this Shadow Government pap hook-line-and-sinker. Once it was set up it started levying tariffs on goods coming from and going to Mars -- tariffs decided by the Shadow government's Tariff Commission, and that Shadow government got the revenues! It was just insane!

The media and people of Earth looked upon this as just more social hijinks by some protest group. They laughed it off. The media featured it! We on Mars didn't see any humor in this at all. Our government was being 'dissed. If this had been the 1700's we would have brought out the muskets and been dumping tea. Instead we had to come up with something 22nd century, and that took putting on some thinking-caps.

Being polite hadn't worked, cooperating with the powers-that-be hadn't protected us from this humiliation. So it was time for some fighting fire with fire.

Anton was still on Earth, and the creations still wanted to see Mars be a big success, and we had other followers, well-wishers and wannabes as well. The Mars government consulted with Anton. He advised against cutting off our nose to spite our face. In this case that meant any kind of retaliation boycott.

"There are plenty of angry people on Earth already. You don't need to add to that list." he said, "What you need to do is convince the Earth governments that by supporting this disrespecting of you, they are supporting the disrespecting of themselves. That will cut this nonsense off in a big hurry.

"And this may be arrangeable..."

So other than being verbally outraged, we had patience. We did a bit of name-calling, but mostly we just let those Shadow Government people hang themselves.

It took a couple of months, but they did. They weren't any kind of real government so those that stayed with it evolved into a group of competing comedians making fun of current politics. And, while that was happening, Anton was encouraging other malcontented bloggers to set up Shadow Governments of various Earth institutions.

When Shadow DMV’s started to show up offering ten minute service, and a Shadow IRS on the Lincoln Memorial and a Shadow Tax Commission on Tiananmen Square, the Earth governments got the hint, and the customs house business was declared a prank and shut down. Likewise, many of the politicians now realized the fire they were playing with, and moved back to more conventional ways of making their talking points. The Shadow Government was a fad that faded.

And after the Shadow Government crisis, the Martians became pretty well respected for being Martians. We were different, and we were independent. We were also just the first. Earth-Mars commerce was now big enough to support many ships making profitable journeys. What came next was more ships that went further afield. Mars was just the first, and we Child Champs were real proud to have done our part to make it a hugely successful first.

We were now truly making babies, and humanity, in the 22nd century way.


-- The End--