- In Ukrainian?
We were about 15 years' old, sitting in the corner of a smoky canteen. It was about midnight and we hadn't been to school for two weeks. As prodigy chess- players we were sent to the tournament far away from our native towns with the provision that we attend the school for a month or so in a new place. Not a chance. We lived in the hotel as adults, played chess at nights as adults and ate in the railway canteen close to midnight as adults. Alcohol was not served to us but we were drunk anyway; the fumes around us were filled with vodka and other exotic liqueurs. We were on top of the world. That's when I told my friends about the Martian Chronicles.
- I only have the book in Ukrainian. Cannot find it in Russian. They say you can buy it in English in a Friendship store, where they sell foreign books.
- What's it about?
- It is a compendium of science fiction stories about US folks flying to Mars.
- Only US folks?
- Yes, there seem to be no others.
- So what do they do there?
I didn't know how to answer that question. Those were the stories different from what I was used to. Our science fiction was optimistic. It described the technological wonders of the future, when people could concentrate on things that mattered the most. In our fiction people were not only powerful but kind and considerate. They also worked together in meeting new civilizations or sometimes the remnants of those civilizations. One novel I particularly remembered- it described the case when Earthlings uncovered a Martian message on the Moon and found out that Mars was inhabited by the humanoid civilization long before people appeared on Earth. At the same time I remembered War of Worlds by HG Wells.
- How do the Martians look like in that book?
- That's the issue. There is no physical description of them. There's a mentioning of masks they wore. They seem to be humanoids but with telepathy powers. Apparently they found out about people coming from Earth long before the rockets actually landed and they decided to kill those people. That's how it started.
- Wait, wait, but we all know that Mars has very rarified atmosphere and it is uninhabitable.