thE MARtIAN CABLE CAR by ProQuest

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When you're on the rustcolored surface of Mars and stand on the edge of Valles Marineris, the other side of the canyon is under the horizon, beneath the curve of the planet. Even though we use a lot less fuel in Mars' much lower gravity, it's still pricey, so we use spider-trucks that pick their way across the uneven landscape and cable cars to ship cargo long distances. Because Mars has less than half gravity of Earth, we only have to put up a tower every few miles and just string some line. Even though all the computer simulations said the new cable car line was safe, Mom insisted on testing it herself.

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									                         Fiction by David Gerrold
                         Illustrations by andy potts




     36    BOYS’ LIFE F JUNE 2010



MartianCableCar_0610.indd 36                           4/20/10 2:54 PM
                                                             in the middle
                               of the Big Empty, suspended in darkness
                               and out of reach of any rescue vehicle. What’s
                               a young Martian to do?
                                                                        about the planet’s impossible
                                                                        geography. And we’ve only had one
                                                                        crash — the one I caused. Sort of.
                                       here’s a canyon across the       Except I meant to do it.
                                       middle of Mars so big it looks     We were testing the new cable
                               like someone took an ax to the           car line across the widest part of
                               planet.                                  the Grand Valley — 375 miles. Mom
                                  It’s called Valles Marineris. It’s    designed the line. I’ve been her
                               more than 2,500 miles long, 375          assistant for three years. I haven’t
                               miles wide and 5 miles deep. It’s        finished high school yet, but that’s
                               not a place you want to get stuck.       how it works on Mars. You go to
                               Trust me. When you see Valles            work as soon as you’re tall enough
                               Marineris from space, it’s scary.        to reach a keyboard, and you finish
                                  And you can only see it from          your education along the way. It’s
                               space. When you’re on the rust-          because there’s too much work and
                               colored surface of Mars and stand        not enough colonists. Not yet.
                               on the edge of Valles Marineris, the       Even though all the computer
                               other side of the canyon is under        simulations said the new cable
                               the horizon, beneath the curve of        car line was safe, Mom insisted on
                               the planet. It’s like being high up      testing it herself.
                               a mountain looking across a vast,          That’s how we all ended up on
                               empty desert. Tourists call it the       the first trip across the Big Empty.
                               Grand Valley. Most of us who live        Me and Mom and my little brother,
                               here just call it the Big Empty.         Bobby. We’d ridden the cable cars
                                  Martians — that’s what we like        all over Mars; the main difference
                               to call
								
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