Author Says Elon Musk’s Mars Plan Is a "1920s Sci-Fi Cliché"

Getty Images / Bill Pugliano

Elon Musk is a dreamer, and that’s a good thing, because it takes people with big dreams to do crazy things like travel to Mars. However, a famous science fiction author, who has written about the Red Planet extensively, says that the SpaceX CEO’s plans are, themselves, the stuff of outlandish fiction.

Kim Stanley Robinson, a Hugo Award-winning novelist, who wrote about colonizing Mars in his Mars trilogy — Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars — spoke to Bloomberg about Musk’s big plans. He was unimpressed.

“Musk’s plan is sort of the 1920s science-fiction cliché of the boy who builds a rocket to the moon in his backyard, combined with the Wernher von Braun plan, as described in the Disney TV programs of the 1950s. A fun, new story,” he said.

Somebody get Musk some aloe vera.

The 64-year-old thought that Musk’s plans, which could involve manned, one-way missions to Mars within a decade that cost $100,000 to $200,000 per ticket, were “not believable, which makes it a hard exercise to think about further.”

“Mars will never be a single-person or single-company effort,” he continued. “It will be multi-national, and take lots of money and lots of years.”

Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy.

Robinson also thought that sending people to live the rest of their lives on Mars, before we have any idea what prolonged exposure to Martian gravity and the elements does to a person, was a bad idea. He was further incensed by the idea of colonizing Mars to be a “lifeboat” for Earth, since we’re screwing up our home planet real bad.

“It’s important to say that the idea of Mars as a lifeboat is wrong, in both a practical and a moral sense,” he said. “There is no Planet B.”

Musk, who is a big sci-fi nerd, must be crushed. On the other hand, though, Musk mostly seems to know what he’s doing, and might just be crazy enough to pull it off.

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