In #scifi Glory on Mars, a cat joins settlers on Mars as a welcome diversion from the battle for survival, and eventually plays an important role in the settlers’ struggle. His earthly stand-in – Harvey – appears on the book’s cover. Harvey’s taking his notoriety in stride.
In the story, two men and two women, about to join the first eight settlers on Mars, have a farewell party at Spaceport America:
Unexpectedly, Emma felt a wave of panic battle the tequila in her bloodstream. She’d had phones and tablets, games and links for as long as she could remember. But batteries were a luxury on Mars, used only for necessary applications. All her earthly devices would be left behind.
One by one, with laughing and back-slapping, the crew of the Settler Three Mission relinquished their devices. Contact lenses were popped out and snapped into cases, earpieces and pads dropped into a box.
“We don’t leave our intrepid settlers out of touch,” the support lead shouted over the crowd. He passed Emma a hand-sized pad. With a cord. An electric power cord. And then he handed her an extension cord.
Emma stared at them. Of course, she used corded pads in training, but the permanence of surrendering her own devices hit home. She wandered towards the edge of the crowd, to the ballroom wall, and plugged into an outlet.
Her pad powered up immediately and, already set to Emma’s account, popped open a message.
“Hey! I’ve got a message from Mars,” she called out. People nearby turned towards her and the room quieted when they saw her puzzled face.
“The colonists want a cat.”
“What?” The support lead tumbled off his chair in confusion.
“They want us to bring them a cat.” Emma held up the pad, hitting the end of the power cord.
“You mean a pet-bot?” someone asked.
“No. A real, live cat. They say they’ve arranged for a kitten to be delivered to our ship from Lunar Base.”
Fuzzy with margaritas, Emma was perplexed. Maybe the settlers on Mars were going crazy.
Harvey’s adorable, of course, but colonizing a hostile planet is not.
Their one-way journey to Mars may be a mistake. The colony psychologist, one of the first eight settlers, has committed suicide. Four more settlers are now on their way, bringing renewed hope. Emma volunteered so she could explore Mars in her robotic walkabout suit. Even if she gets the chance, that may not make up for everything she left behind. Mars is a hostile planet, an inexplicable sense of desolation cripples their efforts, and danger from Earth follows them.
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