When was the last time you got back from a holiday on Mars and said “Never again. I should’ve taken more notice of Trip Advisor. One star is only just up from an asteroid. And the Grrzztz family would be disappointed if we didn’t renew the booking before we catch the Earthside.”? I mean Mars used to be the hot ticket, the place to go, the hip and happening place in the Solar System when it was first opened up to Earthsiders. We all wanted to be seen there lounging by the canals, see it before it was spoilt by tourism. There were some great sights Olympus Mons rearing its frosted crest against the indigo sky. That was before they put in ski lifts and built KFCs on the flanks. The Gale crater with its uninterrupted views for ninety six miles from rim to rim, before they built rows of hotel domes around the edge like a nasty outbreak of genital warts. And the canals flowing deep and green and wide across the red deserts before the mining waste and chocolate brown slurry outflow. Bloody Martians, if they want tourists they should look after their planet more. The visitor does not want to be reminded of their home planet whilst they’re paying top dollar for the Red experience.
And what happened to the welcome at the Spaceport? Originally all part of the experience. The groups of dancers. Little green men jiggling their strange assortment of green parts to their strange gonging music and then hanging garlands of moss and algae round your neck. I mean, the moss had an unpleasant sliminess to it and the smell of the algae. I say little green men as a generic. God knows if there was such a thing as a little green woman and how on earth you would tell them apart if there were. Never mind, we knew the whole thing was authentic and it seemed to please the little green creatures who were performing the welcome. It isn’t like that now. The streams of tourists are met by a superficial standardised jiggle with the interesting bits covered by aprons and boiler suits. And the garlands are no more than cheap plastic representations. I suppose the only bit of authenticity is the smell. The majority of the Martians don’t seem to be as excited as they once were by us tourists and seem to sit or lounge around the spaceport as if they owned the place. I mean, good God you have to work to get your Trip Adviser stars. Since the mining companies found those huge natural deposits of cocoa below the southern ice caps. They seem to exist on chocolate based confectionary that they consume in those little cafes... what do they call them? Mars Bars? Getting above themselves, that’s what I think.
No, Mars is no longer what it once was as a destination so those of us who write about such things have been exploring the less visited parts of the Solar System.
After a quick tour around the outer reaches of the Kuiper belt and the minor planets I had really had enough. Take it from me Pluto is an entirely dismal place, nothing but frozen wilderness. I mean once you’ve seen one methane lake or suffered one carbon dioxide snowstorm then you’ve seen the lot. And given that they’re plunged in darkness for billions of years at a time, the night life is as dismal as any part of Yeovil on a wet Saturday. It just ain't worth the eighteen year round trip. And it’s all owned by Martians. What in God’s name are they doing out there?
No, I wanted a planet with a bit of pizzaz. A bit of get up go without having yet been overwhelmed by overweight and over there Earthies. That’s why I’ve just got back from Venus. Now, I’m not saying that it’s perfect. Still a bit primitive but definitely an air of exclusivity. One seems to be above the rat race. In fact you are literally for the floating hotels of Venus are great multicoloured blimps hanging in the dense carbon-dioxide atmosphere far above the surface which is hot enough to melt lead. And I mean that literally. I mean it is literally hot enough to melt lead. The scientists say it is caused by the sort of runaway greenhouse effect that we’re running into on earth. But, as with everything Earthside we are centuries behind these pacemakers. The blimp hotels are all owned and run by Earthsiders though so we have the best of both worlds, clean towels and linen as well as the deliciously hot Venusian atmosphere. These great ships are more like enormous clouds, up to five miles across so plenty of room to avoid that execrable family from Swindon with the kids who should have been put down for school on Saturn at birth so that they would not be running up and down the aisles of the shuttle demanding space cola. Or preferably put down altogether. God, if they are going to be the visitors of the future then this isn’t going to last for long. Them or the Martians. So book now for Venus. There ain’t going to be anywhere else to go.