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ISFDB.org Magazine Entry




VOL. 9, NO. 1

$1,000 a plate

When Marsy Gras shot off its skyrockets,
Mars Observatory gave it the works—


Illustrated by BECK

SUNSET on Mars is a pale, washed out, watery sort of procedure that is hardly worth looking at. The shadows of the cactus lengthen, the sun goes down without the slightest hint of color or display and everything is dark. About once a year there is one cloud that turns pink briefly. But even the travel books devote more space describing the new sign adorning the Canal Casino than they do on the sunset.

The night sky is something else again. Each new crop of tourists goes to bed at sunrise the day after arrival with stiff hecks from looking up all night. The craters of the moons are visible to the naked eye, and even a cheap pair of opera glasses can pick out the buildings of the Deimos Space Station.

A typical comment from a sightseer is, "Just think, Fred, we were way up there only twelve hours ago."

At fairly frequent intervals, the moons eclipse. The local Chamber of Commerce joins with the gambling casinos to use these occasions as excuses for a celebration. The "Marsy Gras" includes floats, costumes, liquor, women, gambling—and finishes off with a display of fireworks and a stiff note of protest from the nearby Mars Observatory.

THE day after a particularly noisy, glaring fireworks display, the top brass at the Observatory called an emergency meeting. The topic was not a new one, but fresh evidence, in the form of several still-wet photographic plates, showing out-offocus skyrocket trails and a galaxy of first-magnitude aerial cracker explosions was presented.

"I maintain they fire them in our direction on purpose," one scientist declared.

This was considered to be correct because the other directions around town were oil refineries and the homes of the casino owners.

"Why don't we just move the Observ...

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