Who would take a one-way journey to Mars?

Mars One

Mars One is a not-for-profit organization whose goal is to establish a human settlement on Mars

Mars One is a not-for-profit organization whose goal is to establish a human settlement on Mars. In January this year they began the selection process for the astronauts who will make the one way journey to establish a human settlement on Mars. The road map has designated 2023 as the year that the first four humans will land on Mars.

Mars One have begun a search to find the best candidates for the ‘next giant leap for mankind’

Although they have not set an upper age limit for the first crews to settle Mars, with my age placing me in my mid fifties at the time of the scheduled first landing, I suspect I may be beyond it.

Even so I have written a short post on the type of person suitable for this one-way journey.

Australian National Maritime Museum

Many humans have travelled to new lands with the intention of never return but there has always been the potential of a return. Even the convicts forcefully transported to Australia in the eighteenth century departed with the dream of one day returning to their homeland, buried deep in their hearts. In contrast the astronauts of the Mars-One missions must be able to embark on the first truly one-way journey in human history. They must choose to severe all physical ties to their past, and everyone they hold dear. But the void this will leave, like the vacuum of space, will be filled by Mars.

Many of the early seafaring peoples left their homelands to travel to new lands, sometimes on voyages of discovery, other times to help build new societies, but there remained always a chance to return. Even the brave ancestors of the Polynesian peoples, floating in the expansive Pacific Ocean in little more than voyaging canoes, would have held tight to a small hope that they could choose to risk a return journey.

COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII PRESS Side and top view of an Outrigger canoe from Satawal, Caroline Islands.

A Mars-One astronaut must sacrifice all of this; they must jettison all hope of return. They will never hold the people they love in their arms when they laugh or cry; or hear their footsteps; or begin a journey home to them. They will have to accept that they will be several hundred million kilometres from their loved one’s arms when they exhale their last breath.

Experiences that have been part of human existence for Milena will become foreign to them; walking in the open air, swimming in the ocean, feeling warm, no, hot sun on their face. Even walking in one direction for more than a minute, without a spacesuit, will be many years away from being possible.

When they jettison all of this they will be an empty cup, ready to be filled with everything that is Mars. Apart from gaining 37 minutes and 22 seconds each day, they will participate in the birth of a new society and make a positive influence on its formative years. New experiences await them: learning to eat, drink, and exercise in a new gravity; smell and touch the martial soil and rock; seeing the horizon closer than it has ever been.

They will take their newborn existence, like the dry martian soil, and moisten it with the human spirit to alchemise the raw, unformed clay that will be moulded over many years to become a human Mars.

They will need to be learning creatures, and imbibe the essence of whatever they are charged with learning; much like the properties of some rocks to imbibe fluid, drawing it into themselves. They will need to be writers too, of their experiences and emotions but also of Earth. I feel that the first Martian novel will be of Earth.WritingPadAndBooks

Curiosity must drive their behaviour and creativity will be an indispensable element of any of the first Martians but it should not be the bloody minded kind that works in isolation. Any candidate must prove they will be open to the ideas of others and capable of trusting them enough let go of their own. They must be active collaborators and strive to be an enabling ingredient of a team that empowers it to achieve more than the sum of the individual contributions. They will need to let go of old ways with practised ease to release and foster new methods of practise and existence.

English: Mars Terraforming

English: Mars Terraforming (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The selection of the first humans to live the remainder of their lives on Mars will be long and exhaustive. The qualities they need to posses such as resilience, trust, curiosity, and ingenuity are also the qualities that will mean these people will have real relationships on Earth that they must physically sacrifice to become the first Martians. They will have to throw the ropes, that physically connect them to earth, into the water just as the ancient mariners did but for them it must be without harbouring any hope of return.

So which of you would take this one way journey to Mars?

HUGE New Gale Crater Panoramas from Curiosity

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Branding the literary works of Authorial Groups?

WritingPadAndBooks

Popular music is one of the few creative mediums where branding is used to market the work of a group of artists, The Beatles, U2, or Muse for example. People who have enjoyed previously released work from these groups will often purchase a new release, sight-unseen, because they know and love the “brand” of product the group produces. This branding has been used in other creative mediums. In cinema for example the latest “Tarantino” film is almost guaranteed to be well attended because the viewing public have come to know what to expect in one of his films. In the book industry many author’s work is branded more with the author’s name than with the subject matter of the specific book.

A good percentage of popular music releases over the past half a century have been from groups of artists and this continues to be the case today for two reasons. Firstly, the quality of work that can be produced through a collaborative creative process can be much greater than something produced in isolation, and secondly, that the branding of the product is an immediate and lasting marketing tool. Literary products have not embraced this collaborative approach to the degree that the music industry has. We do see products written jointly by several authors but they are marketed under both author’s names rather than an abstract group name.

Is the literary industry missing out on both counts? …I think they are!

In my “day job” I work collaboratively on creative design tasks and I know from personal experience over the past few decades that I could never have produced designs at anywhere near the quality the group has been able to generate, if I had worked in isolation.

When it comes to writing, I have worked in isolation on a large work of fiction for over a year and although some of the writing is of high quality the project is languishing. A few weeks ago when I first began to contemplate the notion of Authorial Groups I decided to seek out one or more writers to work collaboratively on this project with the object of forming a long term partnership where we could brand our joint literary works. I found this step challenging to take, considering the time and effort I have invested  already in research and writing for the work but I am convinced the end product will be of superior quality and has a better chance of reaching the people I intend it to.

The output from groups can also be higher in quantity due to the number of people focused together at the task of writing. This approach should lead to more regular and reliable releases too, which can only help to build the brand loyalty that will ensure the longevity of the process and the group.

In the same way a band leader, or existing band, will audition for new members I decided to approach a writer to work on a short piece of fiction. This on-the-job task may also help to materialise a collaborative writing process that could work for an authorial group.

So, I’ve engaged with another writer and we’ve agreed to collaborate on a short story to both flesh out the process of literary collaboration and group dynamics in writing.  For example, do we collaborate on the plotting and scene development only and then work independently, or do we continue to write as many fingers at the same keyboard, or simply write the text on a white board and transcribe it at a later date?

Trust is a key factor in any partnership, as well as being strong and confident enough to let your ideas to fall dead to the ground if they are not taken up by the group. Luckily I have worked collaboratively with this writer on other creative projects before and we have often joked about each others crap… sorry…outlandish and impractical ideas. In a way we already know how to work together creatively.

The process has started…

Authorial Groups and Intrinsic Worth; “Collaborwriting”

MirandaChasm

Why don’t we see authorial groups like we do with musical bands? A quick answer could be that performing a musical work often requires a group of musicians while writing is completed in isolation. As artists, writers may be selling their work short by attempting to keep it pure and cleansed of external influences. Of course we are all influenced by other artists work but what I’m suggesting is to collaborate; a process where two or more minds produce something that could never be formed by individual writers working in isolation.

Writing a novel—any writing in fact—is a complex mix of many different processes; plotting, structural design, constructing themes and visions, discovering unique plot twists…it’s never simply putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. There’s editing too, and in some situations a good editor can tease out an author’s ideas to produce a work of art that is more intelligible. This is more akin to a record producer who tinkers and cleans, tidying the work as it exists on the page.

Collaborwriting as a group can help to avoid common pitfalls of writing such as a loss of confidence in your ability and becoming overcritical of your work. I know first hand how debilitating these moments can be. Human nature and an environment of trust will ensure we do not become too critical of a collaborative work. Group dynamics can also foster supportive behaviors; lifting members out of their low points and at other times they can stand on each others shoulders to reach heights not possible alone.

A moment of genuine collaborative writing, or “Collaborwriting”, occurs off the page when two minds collide and meld together two form something unique. An early theory about the formation of Miranda, a moon of Uranus, suggested it was formed by the collision of two planetesimal bodies melding to form a single moon. Hugo and Nebula award winning author Kim Stanley Robinson used Miranda’s unique geological history to highlight and suggest the human mind is the integral part of environmental beauty:

After that they hiked down the spine of the buttress in silence. Over the course of the day they descended to Bottoms Landing. Now they were a kilometre below the rims of the chasm, and the sky was a starry band overhead; Uranus fat in the middle of it, the sun a blazing jewel just to one side. Under this gorgeous array the depth of the rift was sublime, astonishing; again Zo felt herself to be flying.

“You’ve located intrinsic worth in the wrong place,” she said to all of them… “It’s like a rainbow. Without an observer at a twenty three degree angle to the light being reflected off a cloud of spherical droplets, there is no rainbow. The whole universe is like that. Our spirits stand at a twenty three degree angle to the universe. There is some new thing created at the contact of photon and retina, some space created between rock and mind. Without mind there is no intrinsic worth.” – Blue Mars (Pages 435-436).

Further illustrating Robinson’s metaphor, the intrinsic beauty of good writing is not contained on the page, that is just ink and paper, and it is not the words and punctuation we craft as writers, it is the thoughts and feelings the writing manifests in the reader’s mind. I’m not suggesting that this higher plane of communication is unachievable when writing in isolation, but that through collaboration we open up possibilities and manifest ideas and concepts that could not be formed by any singular sentient mind.