A Merry Martian Christmas by Stuart Atkinson

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SUMMARY: What will Christmas be like for martians in the future?

A Martian Christmas!

Hi mom, hi dad, and everyone gathered there at home! (and I guess everyone you forward this email to, too!) Merry Christmas!!

See, I told you I'd get a message to you from Mars for Christmas Day somehow! It meant giving-up my New Year comms time allocation, but that's okay, I only write to you, and I know that come morning on New Year's Day you'll all either be still out partying or sleeping off the effects of the night before. Hope you all have a great night, you certainly deserve it. I don't imagine there'll be many people not happy to see the end of 2051, godawful year for everyone that it was. Those terrible floods and earthquakes all coming one after another, then the asteroid strike in South America, which we were able to see the aftermath of through our biggest telescopes here¡K awful, just awful, it must have felt like the world was coming to an end.

Anyway, here I am now, as promised, with a Christmas message from half-way across the Solar System, (I know, I know, I'm not literally half-way, Mars is "only" a couple of hundred million klicks away, virtually "next door", but I feel much further away. And I know for a fact Lucy was sure I wouldn't be in touch at all. Sorry sis, wrong again!) on Mars, just like I always dreamed of being. And mom, dad, I made it, top of the world! I'm at the pole!

Yes, my transfer came through, and I landed here about a month ago, replacing another poor geologist who had to be rushed back to Tharsis for an emergency operation (shattered his hip after falling down a crevasse, very messy, lucky to be alive everyone says.) I know many people consider a "Polar Posting" to be little short of a criminal sentence, but I reckon you probably heard my whoop! of joy when I got the email notification from the Boss up on Phobos. She said I was "uniquely qualified"! I think, truth be told, no-one else wanted to come up here.

And now it's Christmas, and as things are winding-down here for a few days I finally have time to send you the long letter I've been meaning to (and you've been nagging me for!). Up here on the so-called "Great Ice" it looks very festive already, of course, snow and ice on all sides. Add a few reindeer and fir trees and I could be in Lapland, just up the valley from Santa himself! Still, if the terraformers have their way your great great great great grandchildren might wake up on Christmas Eve and see fir trees out their window¡K

I'll tell you all about what Christmas is like on Mars soon, but I know you're eager to hear what I've been up to, so let me fill you in on my trip here. The flight north from Tharsis was fairly uneventful; like most trips between any "A" and "B" on Mars it meant a day of chatting, playing cards and staring out the window of a tiny tin-can shuttle. But the landscape which passed below us was stunning: the flat northern plains of Arcadia gradually gave way to harsher, more broken landscapes, until eventually we were soaring low over the famous "Polar Band", the collar of deep, dark dust dunes which surrounds the pole.

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