Fictional representations of Mars
have been popular for over a century. Interest in Mars
has been stimulated by the planet's dramatic red color
, by early scientific speculations that its surface conditions might be capable of supporting life
, and by the possibility that Mars could be colonized by humans in the future. Almost as popular as stories about Mars are stories about Martians engaging in activity (frequently invasions) away from their home planet.
Mars in fiction before Mariner
Before the Mariner 4
spacecraft arrived at Mars in July 1965 and dispelled some of the more exotic theories about the planet, the conventional image of Mars was shaped by the observations of the astronomers Giovanni Schiaparelli
and Percival Lowell
. Schiaparelli observed what he took to be linear features on the face of Mars, which he thought might be water channels. However, since the Italian for channels is canali
, English translations tended to render the word as "canals
", a word that implies artificial construction. Lowell's books on Mars expanded on this notion of Martian canals
, and a standard model of Mars as a drying, cooling, dying world was established. It was frequently speculated that ancient Martian
civilizations had constructed irrigation works that spanned the planet in an attempt at saving their dying world. This concept originated a large number of science fiction scenarios.
The following works of fiction deal with the planet itself, and with any assumed Martian civilization as part of its planetary landscape.
Novels and short stories
Voyages to Mars
The earliest type of science fiction about Mars involved the first voyages to Mars, sometimes as an invasion force, more often for the purposes of exploration.
Early works to 1910
- Edison's Conquest of Mars (1898) by Garrett P. Serviss. In this Edisonade, Earthmen respond to an attack from Mars with a successful genocide of the Martian race.
- Gullivar of Mars (1905) by Edwin Lester Linden Arnold. An Edwardian fantasy in which Gullivar Jones travels to Mars on a magic carpet and interacts with the slothful but innocent Hithers and the brutish but honorable Thithers.
- Doctor Omega (1906) by Arnould Galopin. A crew of explorers from Earth visit a Mars inhabited by reptilian mermen, savage dwarf-like beings with long, tentacled arms, bat-men and a race of civilized macrocephalic gnomes.
- Le prisonnier de la planète Mars (1908) and its sequel La guerre des vampires (1909) by Gustave Le Rouge. French engineer Robert Darvel is dispatched to Mars by the psychic powers of Hindu Brahmins. On the Red Planet, he runs afoul of hostile, bat-winged, blood-sucking natives, a once-powerful civilization now ruled by the Great Brain.
1910s and 1920s
- Le Mystère des XV (1911) by Jean de La Hire. De la Hire's hero, the Nyctalope helps a group of fifteen Earth scientists establish a permanent settlement on Mars.
- A Princess of Mars and another 10 Mars stories (1912–1943) by Edgar Rice Burroughs. These stories feature Virginia gentleman John Carter mysteriously transported to a Mars (called Barsoom by the natives) that is stocked with humanoid princesses, fierce warriors of several species, exotic animals, energy weapons and swords. Burroughs has had many imitators and inspired many nostalgic references.
- Aelita (1922) by A.N. Tolstoy, one of the first Soviet science fiction novels. It describes a Soviet expedition to Mars headed by the engineer Los. Los falls in love with the beautiful Aelita, daughter of the Martian Supreme Ruler, while Los' companion is trying to organize a communist revolution which is supposed to bring happiness and progress to the ancient and stagnating civilization. This was the source for the 1924 movie Aelita.
- The Swordsman of Mars and Outlaws of Mars (both 1933) by Otis Adelbert Kline. Voyages to Mars in the Burroughs style, but set on a Mars of the past. (In Kline's original work, his Mars and Venus stories were set in contemporary [1920s and 1930s] times. Only the reprints from the 1960s state the tales are set in the distant past.)
- "A Martian Odyssey" (1934), a short story by Stanley G. Weinbaum. A Martian named Tweel (one of several species encountered) is depicted as a sympathetic, intelligent being who thinks as well as or better than a human, but in a convincingly alien manner (a rare feat at any time, but especially striking for pulp science fiction of that era). The story was included in the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. Weinbaum also wrote a sequel called "Valley of Dreams" (1934).
- Out of the Silent Planet, by C. S. Lewis (1938), was written as a conscious answer and antithesis to the works of H. G. Wells and Olaf Stapledon. The first book of Lewis's Space Trilogy, a rare example of theological science fiction, it features a philologist named Ransom who arrives by accident on Mars (called Malacandra by the natives). Ransom is at first fearful of being killed in a barbaric rite by monstrous Martians. He discovers instead three highly sympathetic, intelligent Martian species, completely different from each other but living in harmony, complementing each other and extremely hospitable and generous to their human guest. As in the other books, Lewis' Mars is a dying world; in fact, large parts of it are already dead, and various species - such as an intelligent winged species - have become extinct. At the end of the book, it is disclosed that the Martians' ancestors had possessed the technology to build spaceships and invade Earth, but the righteous Martians voluntarily renounced that possibility and stoically resigned themselves to eventually dying out on their drying, cooling homeworld.
- What Mad Universe (1949) by Frederick Brown depicts an alternate history where humans discovered anti-gravity in 1903 and launched a war to conquer Mars, which is inhabited by creatures with a culture equal to that of Earth, but militarily weaker. The Martians are decimated and finally accept human colonization. H.G. Wells writes a book denouncing the war and conquest of Mars as an act of unjustified aggression. Later, Martians are drawn into Earth's war with Arcturus.
- The Martian Chronicles (1950) by Ray Bradbury. Features human-like Martians with copper-colored skin, human emotions, and telepathic abilities. They have an advanced culture, but the human explorers are greeted with incomprehension and eventually the Martian civilisation is accidentally destroyed by human disease. Bradbury wrote many other short stories set on Mars.
- Our Coming World (1950) by AC Michaud is a self-published utopian vision of a Mars that starts with the abduction of a B29 bomber crew. The Martians are humanoid, with many different colors, and can fly under their own power. These technically advanced Martians live an average of 300 years and have perfected a germ-free, socialist civilization that stresses communal living, centralized supply chains (think Bellamy's Looking Backward). A tour of Mars is interspersed with jeremiads against a morally decayed post-war Earth civilization.
- No Man Friday (1956) by Rex Gordon. A secret British Mars expedition crashes on Mars leaving one survivor who struggles to provide his basic needs from a hostile planet and is eventually discovered by very alien intelligent natives. Inspired the 1964 movie Robinson Crusoe on Mars.
- A World's Revival (Hebrew: תבל בתחיתה Tevel Be-Thiatah) (1955) by Tzvi Livneh Takes place some 500 years in the future. This story describes an expedition from a Utopian Socialist Earth arriving at a Mars which is divided between two oppressive, warring empires. The Earth people eventually succeed in formenting a Martian revolution and overthrowing both empires. The Earth expedition is headed by an Israeli scientist while a leading role among the revolutionaries is played by the "Yunodins", members of a dispersed and persecuted minority explicitly described as "The Jews of Mars". Livneh may have been influenced by Aelita; his story also involves interplanetary love.
- The Outward Urge (1959) by John Wyndham. Describes a comparatively realistic Mars landing, without any Martians.
Living on Mars
By the 1930s, stories about reaching Mars had become somewhat trite, and the focus shifted to Mars as an alien landscape. In the following stories, human contact and basic exploration had taken place sometime in the past; Mars is a setting rather than a goal.
- The Vaults of Yoh-Vombis (1932) and Vulthoom (1935) by Clark Ashton Smith. Weird tales of horror set on Mars.
- The Northwest Smith stories (1933–1936) by C. L. Moore. Most of these stories take place on a Mars populated by intelligent, humanoid Martians - and other things.
- Legion of Space Series (1934–1982) by Jack Williamson. In this future history, humans conquer and colonise Mars in a long series of wars with its inhabitants. All that is long in the past of the series' 30th century plot, where Mars is an established human-settled planet, humans living mainly "in the fertile canal areas" while most of the planet is desert.
- The Secret of Sinharat, People of the Talisman and another eleven stories published between 1940 and 1964 by Leigh Brackett. These planetary romances describe a desert Mars populated by barbarian warriors and citizens of decadent city-states, coming into explosive contact with Terran civilization. Brackett's The Sword of Rhiannon (1953) shows an oceanic Mars of the distant past, and comes close to pure fantasy.
- Robert A. Heinlein repeatedly used Mars as a setting for his novels and short stories, including:
- The Green Hills of Earth (1947). The space poet Rhysling cries out against fellow-humans who had torn down "the slender, fairy-like towers" of the native Martians and replaced them with ugly factories which pollute the Martian canals.
- Red Planet (1949). Young adult novel. Includes some very intelligent Martians similar to those mentioned in Stranger in a Strange Land, who help human colonists free themselves of tyrannical Earth authorities.
- The Rolling Stones (1952). Mars has a major role in the rather amusing and carefree adventures of a space-roving family.
- Seetee Ship (1949) and Seetee Shock (1950) by Jack Williamson. Mars is colonized by European Fascists and Neo-Nazis, and its main holiday is "Hitler Day", celebration of which often entails bloody riots. The Fascist Mars is one of the main powers contending for control of the mineral wealth of the Asteroid Belt.
1950s and early 1960s
- Genesis (story) (1951) by H. Beam Piper - The last survivors of the ancient humanoid culture on Mars flee their dying planet about at 100,000 B.C. Near Earth most of the ship's 1500 passengers are killed by meteors, and only two men and six women land in a lifeboat and become the ancestors of humanity. Later Piper "paratime" stories introduce timelines where more Martians survived, resulting in far more technologcally-advanced Earthes by the 20th Century (see , ).
- The Sands of Mars (1951) by Arthur C. Clarke involves a reporter who makes the long voyage to a desert Mars to write about the human colonists and along the way discovers there is life on Mars after all.
- David Starr, Space Ranger (1952) by Isaac Asimov writing as Paul French. A juvenile novel set in the distant future whose title character discovers an unsuspected Martian civilization deep beneath the Red Planet's surface.
- The Martian Way (1952) by Isaac Asimov. Arrogant Earth people are scornful of the Martian colonists, who barely survive by salvaging "space junk", yet their way of life is what fits the Martian colonists for further space exploration, reaching Saturn first and eventually (Asimov implies) leading the way to the stars.
- Outpost Mars (1952) by "Cyril Judd" (pen name for C.M. Kornbluth and Judith Merril).
- "Omnilingual" (1957) by H. Beam Piper. Short story in which archaeologists excavating the remains of a humanoid Martian civilization find an entire library, but lack a Rosetta Stone.
- "The Badge of Infamy" (1957) by Lester Del Rey. This novelette describes a colonized Mars run by earth lobbies, including a military-industrial lobby and a health lobby similar to the American Medical Association. A humanitarian doctor seeks to cure a disease that afflicts humans whose metabolisms been chemically altered for Mars adaptation.
- In the Perry Rhodan series (1961- ), Mars is the site of an ancient gateway to the "negative side" of the universe. Through this gateway, the planet becomes infested with death crystals whose life-destroying radiation threatens to spread to the Earth.
- "A Rose for Ecclesiastes" (1963) by Roger Zelazny. One of the last stories of this type, describing an Earth poet's study of Martian language and literature. The story is deliberately written as an elegiac farewell to the old conception of Mars, complete with canals and an ancient, dying Martian race, as "The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth" (1965) was his farewell to the Venus of earlier science fiction.
- In Philip K. Dick's fiction, Mars is an almost empty, dry land, with isolated communities and individuals, most of whom do not want to be there. (Martian Time Slip (1964), The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1965)). The characters in these stories could be in small communities in the Arizona desert, but placing them on Mars emphasises their isolation, both from one another and from Earth.
Radio, film and television
- The second series of the British radio science fiction program Journey Into Space (1954–1955) deals with a trip to Mars and what the astronauts find there.
- The Angry Red Planet (1959) – A low-budget horror/science fiction film.
- Space Patrol, 1962 puppet television series:
- "The Buried Spaceship" - 'Operation Ice Cube' is put into action when Marla suggests moving ice through space as a solution to a drought problem on Mars. Galasphere 347 is sent to assist but develops a fault in the Meson Power Unit forcing the craft to land for repairs...
- "The Wandering Asteroid" - The Space Patrol crew accept a dangerous mission to destroy an asteroid deflected from its orbit by a cometary collision and heading directly for the Martian capital Wotan.
- "Husky Becomes Invisible" - When Dart is sent to Mars to find the eggs of the Aba bird to help find a cure for a condition known as the "floats", he calls on Professor Zeller who has discovered that his new star-measuring apparatus can make objects disappear.
- "The Forgers" - Colonel Raeburn is baffled by a sudden influx of forged currency. Whilst investigating what appears to be a disease killing the vegetation on Mars. Dart and Husky stumble across the source of the forgeries...
- Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964) – A pastiche of the classic Daniel Defoe novel.
- Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964) – Known as one of the worst movies ever made, as such it was made fun of on the TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000.
- Thunderbirds Are GO (1966) - followed the first manned mission to Mars aboard the Zero X. This is a notable depiction, which displays a pre-exploration idea of how Mars would look - rocky and desert-like. The crew encounter "rock snakes", which can live without water.
- Doctor Who - The Ice Warriors are Martians.
- The Twilight Zone featured several episodes that focused on Mars and/or Martians.
Mars in fiction after Mariner
Novels and short stories
Beginning in 1965, the Mariner
space probes revealed that the canals were an illusion, and that the Martian environment is extremely hostile to life. By the 1970s, the ideas of canals and ancient civilizations had to be abandoned.
Authors soon began writing stories based on the new Mars (frequently treating it as a desert planet). Most of these works feature humans struggling to tame the planet, and some of them refer to terraforming (using technology to transform a planet's environment).
A common theme, particularly among American writers, is that of a Martian colony fighting for independence from Earth. It appeared already Heinlein's Red Planet and is a major plot element in Greg Bear's Moving Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy, and S.C. Sykes' books. It is also part of the plot of the movie Total Recall and the television series Babylon 5. Many video games also use this concept, such as the Red Faction and Zone of the Enders series. A historical rebellion of Mars against Earth is also mentioned in the Star Trek series of novels, which are not considered canon.
In the decades following Mariner and Apollo, the once-popular subgenre of realistic stories about a first expedition to Mars fell out of fashion, possibly due to the failure of the Apollo Program to continue on to Mars. The early 1990s saw a revival and re-envisioning of realistic novels about Mars expeditions. Early novels in this renaissance were Jack Williamson's novel Beachhead and Ben Bova's novel Mars (both 1992), which envisioned large-scale expeditions to Mars according to the thinking of the 1990s. These were followed by Gregory Benford's The Martian Race (1999), Geoffrey A. Landis's Mars Crossing (2000), and Robert Zubrin's First Landing (2002), which took as their starting points the smaller and more focussed expedition strategies evolved in the late 1990s, mostly building on the concepts of Mars Direct.
Late 1960s and the 1970s
- In Larry Niven's harsh Known Space stories (1964- ) Mars is a backwater bypassed by humans in their rush to the mineral wealth of the Asteroid Belt. A single attempt to colonise Mars ended disastrously, due to the combination of violent conflict between the would-be colonists and a confrontation with the native Martians — a shadowy race spending most of their time swimming under the surface of the Martian dust, and to whom water is a deadly poison. They are neither able nor interested in going into space, and humans are not really interested in Mars, so there seems no reason for conflict. Still, in the book Protector (1973), the Martians are brutally exterminated by a large water asteroid deliberately hurled at the planet, raising the water content in the atmosphere to a degree deadly to them, by Brennan, a human who had turned into a Pak Protector — a creature completely devoted to protecting its descendants, or sometimes his entire species, and is unreasonably xenophobic towards anybody else. This act of interplanetary genocide in effect ties Niven's Mars with the older Wells/Stapledon tradition. Some of these Martians are thought to have survived on the Ringworld, however. See Ringworld Engineers, Ringworld Throne, and Ringworld's Children. Various Protectors set up traps against Niven Martians.
- In The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut (1969), previously uninhabited Mars is populated by brainwashed transplants from Earth, leading to the invasion of Earth by the newly-created Martian army.
- In Die Erde is nah: die Marsexpedition (1970), by Ludek Pesek, published in English as The Earth is Near (1973), a crew of twenty men undertake the first manned mission to Mars, and after landing in the wrong area due to computer malfunction and/or human error, have to cope with viscious sand storms, and a long trek undertaken in vehicles to their original intended area of exploration. The story is told from the viewpoint of the expedition's psychologist, and tries to be (based on the knowledge then known about Mars when written) accurate and realistic as to the problems encountered due to the Martian environment, the technology they have, and the human emotional response to their situation.
- In Police Your Planet (1975) by Lester Del Rey, a disgraced, embittered Earth cop is exiled to a Mars that has been thoroughly corrupted by domed city life - he who controls the air machinery, makes the rules. The local police and city government are utterly corrupt, Chicago style. At first he tries to fit in, then his contact with other downtrodden outsiders renews his old idealism.
- Birth of Fire (1976) by Jerry Pournelle. The story of a troubled youth transported to Mars as a convict laborer who becomes involved with a rebellion by independent farmers and tradesmen who want to terraform Mars and break the stranglehold by the corporations and domed cities sponsored by Earth governments.
- In Man Plus (1976) by Frederik Pohl, an astronaut is transformed into a cyborg capable of living on Mars.
- The novel A Double Shadow (1978) by poet Frederick Turner tells a Martian mythology with gods living on the top of Olympus Mons (called Nix Olympica) and intervening in human affairs. In this book, the writing of the mythology is a penance that a poet chooses to inflict to himself for the death of a fellow crew member on a Martian terraforming site.
- Phillip Jose Farmer's Jesus on Mars envisions Jesus among the aliens on Mars.
- "Ananke" (1982) by Stanisław Lem (a story in More Tales of Pirx the Pilot)
- Watchmen (1985) by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Several Martian landmarks appear in a section of the famous graphic novel, visited by the superhuman Dr. Manhattan and human Laurie Juspeczyk.
- The Forge of God (1987) by Greg Bear. The only surviving humans, numbering in the thousands, and the only surviving Earth life, are resettled on Mars, after the annihilation of Earth.
- Desolation Road (1988) by Ian McDonald is a magic-realist science fiction novel set on a planet that's never explicitly named (though the name "Ares" makes frequent appearances in various contexts) but is clearly meant to be a terraformed Mars. The length of the Martian year is whimsically implied through characters' ages (for example, young people come of age at 10), and a 24-month year is implied using month names such as "Julaugust" and "Novodecember."
- Draka series (1989-), a dystopian alternate history by S. M. Stirling. Mars is colonised by the harsh Draka who create a slave society. To control their slaves there, they breed a special kind of artificial horrendous beast, the ghouloon, out of baboons.
- Lobster Man from Mars (1989) is a parody of 1950's science fiction films, and tells of a race of Martians who are dying due to a rapidly thinning atmosphere, and send an anthropomorphic lobster to investigate the possible colonisation of Earth.
- Venus Prime (1989) The third book of the series : Hide & Seek is set on Mars.
- In Terry Bisson's Voyage to the Red Planet (1990), the first expedition to Mars is organized by a Hollywood producer so he can film a science fiction movie on location.
- Red Genesis (1991) by S.C. Sykes, about a rebellion by human colonists.
- Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy (Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars, 1992-1996) is concerned with a centuries-long program of terraforming the planet. His Icehenge also features a Mars in process of terraforming. Olympus Mons features as the site of an annual festival. In Robinson's companion book The Martians, the escarpment is the scene of an epic multi-pitched rock climb.
- Mars (1992), and Return to Mars (1999) by Ben Bova from the Grand Tour series.
- Moving Mars (1993) by Greg Bear depicts a colonised Mars gradually seeking independence from the control of Earth.
- Red Dust (1993) by Paul J. McAuley takes place against a backdrop of a failing attempt at terraforming Mars by the Chinese.
- Bright Messengers (1995) by Gentry Lee a novel set in the Arthur C. Clarke's Rama universe. A faithful priestess and an engineer who share the same vision of sparkling particules on Earth meet on Mars as civilization faces total collapse. This affects the Mars colony and during the threat of a global sand storm, they found escape of the doomed outpost inside an alien pod, which carried the fugitive humans into a gigantic and espherical spaceship orbiting Mars.
- Voyage (1996) by Stephen Baxter. An alternate history about the 20-year lead-up to a 3-person Mars expedition in 1986 using Apollo-derived technology.
- Mars Underground (1997) by William K. Hartmann
- Olympus Mons (1998) by Bud Sparhawk. the mountain is the setting for a 21st century downhill race.
- The Heritage Trilogy (1998–2000) and The Legacy Trilogy (2003–), by Ian Douglas depicts the Cydonia region of Mars as home to ancient alien ruins where mummified early humans are found in 2040.
- The Martian Race (1999) by Gregory Benford
- Brian Aldiss and Roger Penrose wrote White Mars (1999) as a response to the terraforming science fiction of Kim Stanley Robinson and Paul J. MaCauley above. However, their work rejects terraforming and Mars has been designated as a "planet for science", analogously to Antarctica's current status as an ecologically preserved site for managed scientific experimentation.
- A Harlot of Venus (1996, Richard McGowan) is a lurid, erotic swashbuckler set on a low-tech Mars much in the adventurous spirit of Burroughs. The book features many place names that correspond with actual Martian geography.
Nostalgic Mars fiction
Several post-Mariner works are homages to the older phase of Mars fiction, circumventing the scientific picture of a dry and lifeless Mars with an unbreathable atmosphere through such science fiction generic staples as positing its future terraforming, or creating alternateS history versions of Mars, where Burroughs' Barsoom, Bradbury's Martian Chronicles or The War of the Worlds are literal truth.
- Philip José Farmer's World of Tiers series (1965–1993) contains a nostalgic and ironic reminder of the Barsoom stories. Kickaha, the series' adventurer protagonist, asks his friend The Creator of Universes to create for him a Barsoom. The latter agrees only to make an empty world, since "It would go too far for me to create all these fabulous creatures only for you to amuse yourself by running your sword through them". Kickaha visits from time to time the empty Barsoom, complete with beautiful palaces in which nobody ever lived, but goes away frustrated.
- Some Sword and planet series, such as Michael Moorcock's Kane of Old Mars trilogy (1965) and Lin Carter's Mysteries of Mars (1973–1984) are deliberately anachronistic homages to earlier visions of Mars, particularly Burroughs'.
- In one of Robert A. Heinlein's last novels, The Number of the Beast (1980), the heroes flee Earth in a car capable of flight in six dimensions and find several alternate versions of Mars, one which had been colonised by the British and another which is an improbable combination of Burroughs' fabulous Barsoom with the home planet of the vicious Martians whose invasion of Earth was described by Wells.
- A World Of Difference (1990) by Harry Turtledove. In this alternate history, the fourth planet of our solar system - named Minerva instead of Mars - is larger, nearer to Earth and has conditions congenial to the existence of life, including intelligent creatures with their well-defined biology and culture (and wars with each other). Until the 1970s this makes no substantial difference to human history, beyond some minor differences in myths. But when a Viking space probe sends back the picture of an alien creature swinging a stick, a joint US/USSR mission is sent in a hurry to explore the planet, and things develop fast from there.
- S. M. Stirling's Lords of Creation series includes In the Courts of the Crimson Kings, in which Mars (as well as Venus) have been terraformed by unknown aliens over the course of hundreds of millions of years and seeded with all kinds of terrestrial life. Terran explorers arrive in the latter part of the 20th century to discover that Mars is home to a decaying but still highly advanced culture that was creating technological marvels back when Earthlings were still living in caves.
- The title Larry Niven's Rainbow Mars (1999) alludes to Robinson's three-colored Mars trilogy, and the plot concerns a time machine that is used to visit ancient Mars. The only problem is that time travel is impossible, and the machine actually travels back to a fictitious/alternate-universe Mars. The protagonist meets a wide variety of different Martians, including most of those from the pre-Mariner novels listed above.
- "Larklight" (2006), a story by Phillip Reeve is set in the 1700s, where Mars is inhabited by an elvin race, which formerly commanded great space empires. Humans are thought to be their descendants. They are describe as purple haired and russet skinned. Mars and most other planets have a breathable atmosphere for humanity in Larklight.
Nostalgia for the older Mars also frequently appears in comics and role-playing games, particularly of the steampunk genre:
- The role-playing game Space: 1889 (1988) features an alternate history in which a heroic Mars, complete with natives, is being colonized by the European empires of the 19th century.
- The wargame Sky Galleons of Mars (1988) is set in the same alternate history as Space:1889.
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (1999-) takes place in a world where characters from various literary sources interact. A scene taking place on Mars features the Hithers from Gullivar of Mars, the Green Martians from Barsoom, and the Séroni from Out of the Silent Planet, with references to Kane of Old Mars. In the world of The League, the Martians from The War of the Worlds are not originally from Mars, but were invading aliens who moved on to try to conquer Earth.
- In the graphic novel Scarlet Traces- the Great Game (2002), Olympus Mons is the main base of the British Mars Expeditionary Force. Scarlet Traces is intended as a sequel to H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds and centres on a counter-invasion of Mars, beginning about 1908 and continuing over the next three decades.
Film and television
- Total Recall (1990) – Loosely based upon a Philip K. Dick short story, "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale." The protagonist (Arnold Schwarzenegger) must journey to Mars in order to uncover his past. Mars is shown as being previously inhabited by an ancient race of aliens who created a machine for producing a breathable atmosphere on the planet.
- Armitage III (1994) – An anime by Hiroyuki Ochi.
- RocketMan (1997) - A Mission to Mars with a wacky computer programer for 8 Months
- Cowboy Bebop (1998) - Many of Mars's impact craters were transformed into metropolitan areas following a Disaster that Destroyed the Surafce of Earth in 2021. The series protagonist, Spike Spiegal, is a native of Mars.
- Mission to Mars (2000) – A science fiction thriller adventure about a rescue mission of the first manned mission to Mars, which encountered a catastrophic and mysterious disaster.
- Red Planet (2000) – A group of astronauts try to make Mars suitable for human life. No relation to the Robert A. Heinlein novel of the same title.
- Ghosts of Mars (2001) – Director John Carpenter uses the planet as a science fiction setting for a remake of his earlier Assault on Precinct 13.
- Stranded: Náufragos (2002) - thriller adventure about the crew of the first manned mission to Mars getting stranded on the surface. Based on a script by the noted Spanish sci-fi writer Juan Miguel Aguilera.
- Avenger (2003) – a post-apocalyptic anime series. Mars is presented as a the only planet colonized before the destruction of Earth and hence, the only humanity's hope to survive. However, after the Earth's Moon has been drawn by Mars' gravitation to become its third natural satellite, several catastrophic events rendered the planet practically uninhabitable.
- Mars Daybreak (2004) – An anime based on a video game (Kenran Butohsai). The story is set on a water-flooded Mars.
- Space Odyssey: Voyage To The Planets (2004) - A documentary style series about a scientific voyage by the crew of the interplanetary ship Pegasus. Mars was one of the first planets visited, and the crew stayed on the surface for some time, finding water and experiencing a huge dust storm.
- Doom (2005) – Loosely based on the third installment of the Doom computer game series, a group of Marines are sent to the red planet via an ancient Martian portal called the Ark to deal with an outbreak of a mutagenic virus.
- Tom and Jerry Blast Off to Mars (2005) - Tom and Jerry unintentionally discover that we are not alone in the universe when they stow away on a rocket headed for Mars. Martians are depicted as small (Jerry-sized), green, with tentacles for "hair", and wearing various red-and-white uniforms.
- Race to Mars (2007) – a miniseries produced in 2007 by Discovery Channel Canada.
Secondary references to Mars in film and television
In the following works of fiction, the Martian setting is of secondary importance to the work as a whole.
- Doctor Who television series. Mars is the homeworld of the Ice Warriors, a recurring adversary of the Second and Third Doctors from 1967 to 1974. In Pyramids of Mars (1975) the Fourth Doctor defeats Sutekh, last of the Osirians, who had been imprisoned for his crimes beneath a Martian pyramid.
- The Super Dimension Fortress Macross (1982–1983) anime series, which was edited and adapted as the first part of Robotech (1985), in the episode "Bye Bye, Mars". The SDF-1 Macross lands on Mars to resupply, and must fight its way off the planet after being trapped there by an alien Zentradi ambush.
- Genesis Climber Mospeada (1983–1984) anime series, which was edited and adapted as the third part of Robotech (1985). The main character, Stick Bernard(Mospeada)/Scott Bernard (Robotech), is a Martian colonist and a soldier in the Mars Base Military.
- Blue Comet SPT Layzner (1985–1986) anime series. Several episodes take place on Mars.
- Exosquad (1993–1995) animated television series. Mars was one of the three Homeworlds and the industrial center of the Solar System before the war between Terrans and Neosapiens. During the war, the Neosapiens made it their stronghold. Olympus Mons was the location of the headquarters of the main villain Phaeton, as well as containing a breeding facility for the artificial Neosapiens. The mountain was destroyed during an attack on the facility by Able Squad at the climax of the first season of the show. The mountain is inaccurately depicted as a tall, narrow spire.
- Babylon 5 (1993–1998) television series. Mars is a human colony seeking independence from the Earth Alliance. Several of the major characters have close links to Mars and, alongside Centauri Prime and the White Star fleet, Mars is the most common setting for action other than the Babylon 5 space station itself.
- seaQuest DSV television series. The episode "Better Than Martians" (1994) deals with the first manned mission to Mars returning to Earth, but, encountering difficulty upon re-entering Earth's atmosphere and splashing into the ocean, leaving seaQuest to find the capsule before an unfriendly foreign confederation can.
- Martian Successor Nadesico (1996). An anime series and manga by Kia Asamiya.
- Futurama (1999–2003) animated television series. By the year 3000, Mars has been completely terraformed to make it habitable for humans - the native Martian aliens are forced to live in specially designated areas, in a parody of the treatment of Native Americans. Amy Wong's parents own half of the planet, and it features its own university.
- Invader Zim (2001–2002) animated television series. In one episode, Zim finds that Mars is a giant spaceship and attempts to roll it over Earth in order to wipe out all human life.
- Star Trek television franchise. Some starships are assembled at Utopia Planitia region on Mars, particularly the Galaxy class starships featured in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
- In the Star Trek: Enterprise episodes Demons and Terra Prime (both 2005) it is revealed that Mars is in the process of being terraformed by use of the Verteron array which redirects comets to crashland on the planet's surface. The opening credits of this series feature real images of the "Sojourner" rover on Mars, being the first Star Trek production featuring real footage filmed on another world.
- In the Star Trek: Voyager episode One Small Step the Voyager discovers the fate of the Ares IV, the first manned expedition to Mars in 2032.
- Transformers (2007) movie. One of the Mars probes was attacked by Blackout after it landed. It also recorded the attack.
- In the Watchmen comic by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons Dr. Manhattan character tours Mars and visits Olympus Mons, admiring its features.
- In the 2000 AD series The V.C.s Olympus Mons' crater is covered by a massive dome to retain an atmosphere as the main settlement on the planet.
- In the Mobile Suit Gundam F90 manga, Olympus Mons is where Principality of Zeon remnants called the Oldsmobile Army construct their base of operations. Included is an enormous cannon capable of firing shots at Earth.
- Several stories of the DC Comics character Martian Manhunter take place on Mars.
- The most recent issue of the webcomic Dr. McNinja features Dracula revealing that he discovered the cure for cancer and hid it on Mars.
Computer and video games
- In the id Software game Commander Keen, Keen explores Mars in the first episode and keeps a Martian pet for the remainder of the series.
- In the turned-based tactics game X-COM: UFO Defense the alien invaders use Mars as a base of operations in which to launch UFO attacks on Earth.
- UFO: Afterlight, a game similar to the X-COM series, is set entirely on Mars and its moons. It involves a human colony struggling for survival against various hostile aliens and the harsh Martian environment. Strategic gameplay takes place on a 3-D rendered globe of Mars, which includes familiar landmarks such as Olympus Mons. The player has the option of altering the landscape through terraforming.
- The first-person shooter Red Faction tells the story of a Martian mining colony that leads a revolt to take control of the autocratic government.
- The computer game Elite 2 starts on Mars in one scenario.
- In the 1993 video game Doom, game events took place on military bases on both of Mars' moons, Phobos and Deimos. The 2004 sequel Doom 3 is set on Mars itself.
- Mars is the setting for Worlds of Ultima II: Martian Dreams RPG by Origin Systems released in 1991. The heroic Avatar travels first to the year 1887, then on to Mars to rescue many of Earth's scientists, celebrities, and politicians stranded there by accident. The Avatar will uncover the secrets of a lost Martian civilization.
- In the video game Airforce Delta Strike, the EDAF establishes a base on Mars to use as a rally point to finish off the OCC's remaining forces.
- Three levels of the computer game Descent are set in facilities on Mars. Level 8 is set in a processing station, while levels 9 and 10 are (appropriately) set in a military dig and military base.
- The survival horror Martian Gothic: Unification is set on a research base on the surface of Mars, and a volcanic vent of Olympus Mons is also explored.
- Most of the 1986 Infocom game Leather Goddesses of Phobos occurs (despite the name) on Mars.
- The video game Armored Core 2 takes place on Mars while it is undergoing terraforming and colonization. The game's final mission however takes place on Phobos.
- Some of the missions in the video game Battlezone are set on Mars. It doesn't appear in the Soviet campaign, though.
- In the shoot 'em up game Terra Diver (SoukyouGurentai in Japan), the player's rival company sets up their attack HQ on Mars where the player's final mission takes place.
- In Darius II (arcade game), players travel to Mars to eliminate one of many underground enemy bases.
- In the shoot 'em up Mars Matrix, Martian colonists revolt turning their colony upside down and the players are ordered to stop them.
- In the Cave shoot em' up DoDonPachi, players control an Earth-bound pilot who is assigned to stop an attack on Earth initiated by an unknown race of highly skilled Martian pilots whereupon the second level in the game takes place on the Martian surface.
- In Mass Effect, an expedition launched by the European Space Agency discovers an ancient cache of advanced technology leftover from an alien race known as the Protheans.
- In Palladium Games' post-apocalyptic role-playing game Rifts, the Martian canals are mystical ley lines, magical tunnels of energy that create portals through space, time and dimension wherever they cross. In Palladium's After The Bomb Sourcebook 6: Mutants in Orbit, there is a section pertaining to Rifts that also says that there were several points where the ley lines create dimensional pockets (similar to the Bermuda Triangle) in which full-fledged jungles grow within the borders of three nearby Rifts.
- In the GURPS role-playing game Transhuman Space, Mars is in the process of being terraformed, while several million people live in colonies. China, the first nation to land on Mars and the leader of the most extensive colonies, has built a space elevator on Mars to speed colonization. The Transhuman Space sourcebook In The Well places a University town, "Nix Olympia" and a ski resort "Zeus Tourist Resort" on Olympus Mons.
- In the RPG Mutant Chronicles, Mars is the homeworld of Capitol Megacorporation.
- In the tabletop wargame Warhammer 40,000, Mars is a vast, heavily colonized 'Forge World,' home to the Adeptus Mechanicus, the Tech-Priests of Mars. They are the engineers and technicians of the Imperium, who create most of the Imperium's more advanced weaponry. The planet is almost as well defended as the Holy planet Terra itself and home to those who worship the 'Machine Spirit.'
- In the tabletop wargame and fictional universe of BattleTech, Mars is the location of a military academy. Mars was held by the Terran Hegemony and the Star League before its collapse. Afterward it was controlled by the interstellar communication order known as ComStar. After ComStar split into two factions Mars was claimed along with Terra by the Word of Blake during Operation Odysseus. During the Word of Blake's jihad against the rest of the Inner Sphere the mercenary command Wolf's Dragoons launched a failed assault on Mars which resulted in the nuclear scouring of their base planet of Outreach.
Martians in fiction
The Martian was a favorite character of classical science fiction; he was frequently found away from his home planet, often invading Earth, but sometimes simply a lonely character representing alienness from his surroundings. Martians, other than human beings transplanted to Mars, became rare in fiction after Mariner, except in exercises of deliberate nostalgia - more frequently in some genres, such as comics and animation, than in written literature.