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.
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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