Friday, January 10, 2014

Guest Post: Happy Blogiversary! + Giveaway!

Happy Blogiversary! from Cidney Swanson

Upon the anniversary of a blog, it seems appropriate to consider mile-markers, so today I thought I’d take give you a tour of some Marsian mile markers for people in my Saving Mars Series.

For those of us in late twentieth and early twenty-first century Earth growing up in America, a few early milestones might include losing your first tooth, learning to read, and, if your family celebrates Christmas, figuring out Santa Claus isn’t the one filling your stockings. Kids on Mars have these same experiences, although on Mars, Santa is understood to travel by planet hopper as the atmo would pretty much kill any flying reindeer.

A kid growing up in the USA would add middle school graduation and getting a learner’s permit to operate a car to their tween/early teen experiences. Kids on Mars have it a little different. They don’t observe eighth grade graduation as the school system only includes six annums of school. Now, before everyone on Earth starts shouting, “No Fair!”, keep in mind a Marsian year or annum lasts 688 days. (That’s how long it takes Mars to make a trip around the sun.) So, instead of eight years of elementary, Mars-raised kids complete their first three annums of school and then move on to “Upper School” for their last three annums. 

Another significant milestone for kids on Mars is getting licensed to drive a family vehicle. A kid who has passed their seventh annum can take a test to qualify to drive a ground-only vehicle such as a Get-about or Sand-crawler. For flying vehicles, you need to additionally take courses offered through Mars Colonial Academy Base. Most kids can only fit this in during their school holidays, so practically speaking, you could be anywhere from thirteen Earth years to sixteen Earth years before your seventh annum AND your summer break correspond. And some parents don’t want their kids flying until they are adults and won’t send their kids to flight school at any age.

So when do you reach adulthood on Mars? Well, technically this comes when you reach ten annums of age. Terran birthdays, coming almost twice a year on Mars, are a bit confusing to count, so most Marsian families only count the annual “Annum” as a marker of age, even though there is likely to be a present or two, balloons and maybe candles for a birthday each 365 days. (The original Mars colonists didn’t want to give up celebrating every 365 days, and so the custom stuck around even after the break in Earth-Mars relations.)

But really, there is another much more important marker that identifies you as an adult on Mars. And it has little to do with your true age, whether measured in Terran years or Marsian annums.

The climate on Mars is very, very dry. Some effort is given to humidify air within dwellings, but the regulations for this (as per the Mars Mandate) keep things desert-dry year round. This has consequences for skin—the less melanin you have, the greater the consequences. Because of this, the acquiring of a first wrinkle is seen as a marker of entrance into adulthood. Facial wrinkles are the only ones that really count, and most Marsians, around their eleventh or twelfth annum, will get a wrinkle somewhere on their forehead. So, while wrinkles are scorned on Earth, they lend you some automatic status on Mars as a sort of visual proof of adulthood. Celebrations vary around Mars, but you can count on a party, possibly with a live band and settlement-wide dancing, and you’ll be expected to stay up all night in honor of your new status as a true Marsian adult.

Giveaway Time! Enter to win either book one, Saving Mars, or book five, Striking Mars. US addresses only, please.

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