The other day I got a spam mail from “Fentress Telling” who, in addition to having a name like a Jedi, sent me a mail entitled: “The Martians were there–in the canal–reflected in the water.”
Do you know the source of this quote? It’s the last line of one of my favorite books.
The book would, of course, be Ray Bradbury’s amazing collected work The Martian Chronicles which contains this line within the story “The Million-Year Picnic”. TMC hails from that particular time of early science fiction where answers are rarely given, and the endings are usually quite ambiguous.
That was something that drove me nuts about watching the syndicated episodes from the earliest airings of “The Twilight Zone”. I didn’t understand, or couldn’t appreciate an ambiguous ending.
Further he stories in this genre of that age were usually elaborate devices to ask a hard question in dramatic form. Unlike their predecessors, the Greek plays, when the question got too hairy there was no deus ex machina who could fly to the assistance and smooth out the ethical and the narrative ( For more on this idea see Alisdair McIntyre’s After Virtue), rather the only resolution was to leave non-resolution.
I really like that collection in the same way that I like Asimov’s I, Robot collection. Several disparate short stories are collected and in their non-conjoined telling, they wind up giving an impression of a feeling of an idea whose majesty can’t quite be captured just yet: Martian Colonization, or a society with high-functioning robots.