Skip to content

Kind Review

I am so grateful to Diane Severson Mori for her kind review of my Blue Sunset in Amazing Stories, including wonderful audio versions of some of my poems, all available to read or listen to at this link:
http://amazingstoriesmag.com/2014/03/poetry-review-blue-sunset-mary-jo-rabe/

Diane Severson Mori is simply amazing! No one does as much for speculative poetry and poets as she does. She writes reviews of poetry and poetry collections at Amazing Stories Magazine, edits Poetry Planet at Star Ship Sofa (http://www.starshipsofa.com), producing podcasts, sings and teaches professionally, maintains a fascinating website at http://divadiane.eu and moves with her family from one European city to another, a truly cosmopolitan and all-round genius. She also has begun to write poetry and already has one poem nominated for the Rhysling Award. I wish she would write more.

I got to “know” her when she was one of the preliminary judges for a poetry contest our organization (Science Fiction Poetry Association, SFPA) ran. She very kindly sent my poem on to be one of the finalists that year.

At almost every workshop I have attended, Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith emphasized the importance of good blurbs and taught us how to write them. Nonetheless, I still think the most honest blurb for Blue Sunset would be “If you already happen to like this kind of thing (i.e. poetry like that found in Spoon River Anthology), then there is a good chance that you might like Blue Sunset.

Blue Sunset is what you would call a “small book”, i.e. not something for everybody, not a potential best seller. I don’t know how many people besides me love Spoon River Anthology, but assuming that I am not in any way unique, there must be some, and this book is for them, i.e. us. I’m not sure how to find these future readers, but I have a suspicion that it would be extremely self-defeating to try to trick others into purchasing this book by claiming that it is something it is definitely not. If you don’t like this kind of thing, you won’t like Blue Sunset, and I don’t want to disappoint you or make you angry by getting you to start reading it under false pretenses.

Now to get the paperback version finished, something I learned how to do at a workshop in Lincoln City, Oregon last May …

Advertisements

Ned Brooks Got It Right; On To Mars

Things are looking up and changing rapidly as far as nongovernmental sponsored trips to and settlements on Mars are concerned. My Ned Brooks in Blue Sunset looks more and more plausible. At this point in time, governments just won’t come up with the money or the optimistic courage to promote human settlements on Mars, so it will be up to alternatives sources.

Bas Lansdorp is promoting a one-way trip for four people to Mars and hopes to pay for the trip by making it a reality show and selling broadcasting and advertising rights. Mars One is a non-profit organization that wants to establish a human settlement on Mars. You can find information about Mars One at this URL: http://mars-one.com/
I suspect that four people aren’t enough for a settlement with any future, but it’s better than not going at all.

Dennis Tito wants to send couple, probably a man and a woman, on a round-trip Mars Flyby in 2018. You can find more information about this project, Inspiration Mars, at this URL: http://www.inspirationmars.org/:
I understand the advantage of using the favorable planetary alignment of 2018. This trip wouldn’t be any kind of settlement, but could truly inspire future settlers. My limited number of Facebook friends indicate that it will be no problem to find volunteers.

Elon Musk still wants to send 80,000 people to Mars and at the cost of $500,000 each. That would be a good size for a settlement. I wonder if there are 80,000 people who would pay $500,000 and suspect that not all of them would be the best possible settlers. Maybe some of them could be persuaded to subsidize the trip for more qualified candidates.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/26/mars-colony-spacex-ceo-elon-musk-settlement_n_2190847.html

In his next book Buzz Aldrin explains his rationale for supporting a settlement on Mars.
Buzz Aldrin: Mission To Mars
http://www.amazon.com/Mission-Mars-Vision-Space-Exploration/dp/1426210175/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1364236670&sr=1-1&keywords=mission+to+mars+buzz+aldrin

So, things are looking up, and Blue Sunset isn’t that far ahead of its time.

Babie More, Spin Shea, and Rethinking Tolerance

In the light of a certain event (that I won’t name), I’m beginning to wonder if it is a good idea to tolerate and thereby encourage oblivious idiots.

Hoping to prevent any misunderstanding: I’m not talking about any kind of learning disability. I have the highest respect for those who have these challenges forced on them and make the best of their skills through damned hard work. I truly admire them and the families and friends who support their endeavors.

I realize that I am pounding on the thin ice of political correctness here, but face it, haven’t all of us had encounters with, don’t we all work with the spontaneous bubbleheads who suddenly go off half-cocked and do or say something so incredibly, boneheaded stupid that everyone gasps with disbelief?

These people exist, the birdbrains, the bimbos, the airheads, the dingbats who simply can’t control their impulses or give any thought to what they suddenly decide to do. They don’t question whether what they are doing is safe or whether in fact they know what they’re doing. It never occurs to them to ask someone else to double-check what they do.

They can’t control the impulse to blurt out the first silly thing that pops into their heads. They never stop to reflect that hurtful words, once spoken, can never be called back, that the damage can never be undone.

Yes, in many ways, these people are delightful, so spontaneous, so fun-loving, automatically taking the initiative, the first ones to roll up their sleeves and cheerfully get to work. They are eternally cheery, never ones to dwell on past unpleasantness.

And don’t people have the right to be, to be their flighty selves, to be the way they are?

In the circles I hang out in, the answer would be a resounding yes. Yes, spontaneity is always good, and yes, spontaneous people must be tolerated with all their quirks. What kind of grinch would deny people the right to their cheerful, impulsive, spur-of-the-moment actions?

I would. Just like your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins, your right to go off half-cocked and do something spontaneously stupid ends where my life and safety begin.

I feel for the people who get the unjust blame, the bosses, the managers, the supervisors. You can educate people, you can train them, you can organize drills, you can have people practice over and over again, you can make instructions available in print, electronically, and it won’t do one damn bit of good. You can’t prevent these people from doing something abhorrently stupid.

These oblivious idiots have the attention spans of fruit flies. They neither store information nor access it from the depths of any long-term memory. They don’t activate their brains before they say or do anything. They just run off and do what suddenly occurs to them.

By tolerating their antics, we only encourage these people. In the worse case scenarios, helpless people die when an ignorant, incompetent person spontaneously decides to do something silly.

In Blue Sunset my first character Babie More is such a person. A stupid, thoughtless, silly, young woman who always got away with her stupidity by laughing, flirting and being blonde, she causes the death of a kind and tolerant man.

Spin Shea, on the other hand, can’t control his adolescent audacity and causes the death of his girlfriend Marty. However, during the rest of his long life on Mars he reflects that “On Earth stupidity was only an annoyance; on Mars it was a death sentence, sooner or later.” Spin was wrong. Stupidity on Planet Earth also results in innocent people getting hurt or killed.

So, since tolerance doesn’t work, what do I suggest? I guess I wish everyone who has dealings with these oblivious idiots would say to them in all honesty something like:
“You are a wonderful human being, and I love you to pieces, but you are also an unpredictable time bomb, a constant danger to everyone around you because you don’t stop and think before you do things. I know, you get these impulses and you just can’t stop yourself. But the thing is, you have to stop yourself, like in the song on TV for pre-schoolers that told them to stop, look, and listen before crossing a street. You need to stop, think, and then think again before you do what you spontaneously feel like doing. Ask for help. Ask for advice. Only you can protect others from the consequences of your dangerous, thoughtless behavior.”

Lucinda Matlock

As I have written before, Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters is my favorite collection of poems. Way back when I was in high school (1965-1969), we even read a few of these poems in English class, naturally not the ones that dealt with sex or violence. I wonder if any high school English teacher is up to reading them in class today. The poems were written for adults and contain references that Edgar Lee Masters assumed to be understandable for educated readers back at the beginning of the 20th century. Possibly many of these poems would be too difficult for most high school students now that curricula continue to be dumbed down. I find this probability very sad. It’s good to stretch your brain and read things you don’t understand completely the first time through, and this is what schools should be encouraging kids to do.

However, I would like to point out one of my favorite personalities from Spoon River, Illinois, a certain Lucinda Matlock. I often read the final 5 lines of her “epitaph” whenever I need some inspiration. When I was younger, I thought her cricitism of the younger generation was unnecessarily harsh. From the perspective of over 60, I realize that she got it right, degenerate sons and daughters.

Lucinda Matlock, can be viewed at http://www.bartleby.com/84/207.html

Lucinda, a woman who spent 96 years working, playing, loving, and taking pleasure in life with all its joys and sorrows, is a model for my Emma Brooks Baxter, sister of billionaire Ned Brooks in Blue Sunset. After she reached her 60’s, Emma found herself without enough to do on Earth and therefore went to Mars where she wound up influencing and directing various legal and illegal activities, all to the benefit of the Mars settlers. She died just as content as Lucinda Matlock did.

Paying for the Mars Settlement

In Blue Sunset I have the mysterious yet benevolent businessman and billionaire Ned Brooks provide seed money for the Mars settlement. He also solicits money from all possible sources, resulting in some bureaucratic interference when it comes to choosing the first settlers. However, basically the settlement ends up with a somewhat representative sample of what Earth has to offer. According to Blue Sunset (and my theories) it doesn’t take that long for the settlement to become self-supporting. We human beings aren’t good at a lot of important things (like treating a number of physical and mental illnesses or even living with each other in peace), but what we are good at is flexible innovation, coming up with the inventions when we really need them. So, yet another reason for a settlement on Mars is the likelihood of inventions made on Mars that benefit those choosing to stay on Earth.

I was pleased to read that Elon Musk wants to establish a settlement on Mars starting with 10 people and aiming for 80,000. His thoughts sound feasible except that I would provide for subsidies for the travel costs. You want to get the most capable people for your settlement, not just the wealthiest

Poems available online

Some poems of mine available at wonderful e-zines:

The Ghosts of Mars at Mindflights
http://www.mindflights.com/item.php?sub_id=6955

Salt Water Rafting at Raven Electrick
http://www.ravenelectrick.com/ravenpoetrick/saltwaterrafting.html

Tharsis Lil at Astropoetica
http://www.astropoetica.com/Summer07/tharsislil.html

Martian Weather at Mindflights
http://www.mindflights.com/item.php?sub_id=3948

Christmas on Mars at The Sword Review
http://www.theswordreview.com/item.php?sub_id=3268

Blue Sunset by Mary Jo Rabe

 

For anyone who is wondering what my first e-book, Blue Sunset (available in most online shops), is about:

Blue Sunset is inspired by Edgar Lee Masters’s Spoon River Anthology and numerous stories of life on Mars, but mainly Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles. In Blue Sunset I let the first settlers on Planet Mars tell their stories with the epitaphs they could have written for themselves.

These are the stories of good versus evil, intelligence versus stupidity, rashness versus hesitancy, with Planet Mars providing additional challenges.

If you loved Spoon River Anthology, there’s a very good chance, you’ll like Blue Sunset. If you aren’t acquainted with Spoon River Anthology, by all means, go read it first. You don’t have to buy it; it’s available at http://spoonriveranthology.net/spoon/river/ or http://www.bartleby.com/84/

To me the most memorable epitaphs from Spoon River, Illinois, are the accounts of: Minerva Jones, “Indignation” Jones, Doctor Meyers, Mrs. Meyers, Sarah Brown, Dorcas Gustine, Margaret Fuller Slack, Lois Spears, Lucius Atherton, Nellie Clark, Herbert Marshall, William and Emily, Mrs. George Reece, Elsa Wertman, Hamilton Greene, Mrs. Purkapile, Walter Simmons, Mrs. Merritt, especially Lucinda Matlock.

Edgar Lee Masters had various agendas behind his Spoon River Anthology. A former lawyer, he was very concerned about the poor, the downtrodden, the exploited. And he wasn’t too fond of the theory of monogamy, preferring to speculate on the benefits of free love or open marriage, and that at the beginning of the 20th century.

I let my own characters on Mars relate their hopes, adventures, fears,

If you’d like to read about the lives of the first settlers on Mars, you might like Blue Sunset.

I also have an agenda, though it differs wildly from that of Edgar Lee Masters. I think we need a permanent human settlement on Mars.

Think about it. Exploring new places and creating a home in a challenging environment is what humans are good at. We’re not good at a number of desirable activities, like living in peace and harmony with each other, but we love to strive for almost impossible goals.

Settlements on Mars are possible, as opposed to, for example, faster than light or time travel. We know how to get to Mars and how to survive there. We just need the engineers to work out the details. All the new inventions necessary to make human habitation on Mars possible will end up improving the quality of life on Planet Earth.

Rovers and robots are great, but as soon as they get one wheel stuck, that’s the end of their research, whereas a settler could ride out, pick up the rover, free the wheel, and send it on its curious way.

It’s not a good thing to keep all our eggs in the basket of Planet Earth. The universe is a chaotic, often unpredictable place. Earth is a perfect habitat for human life, but Mars as a backup is a sensible alternative.

So, if you think this is the kind of thing you might enjoy reading, go for it. If you’re not sure, go to Smashwords (http://www.smashwords.com) first where you can download 50% of Blue Sunset for free. Then you can decide if you want to read the rest.

If you like Blue Sunset, please recommend it to others who like this kind of thing.

If you’re sure Blue Sunset isn’t for you, no problem. Read something else. There are plenty of wonderful books by great authors out there. As soon as I have time, I’ll recommend some of my favorite poets and genre writers.