Falling Onto Mars
by Geoffrey A. Landis
• Word count: 2296
• Page count: 4
Falling Onto Mars is an award winning science fiction short story by Geoffrey A. Landis. It is a story about violent and non-reforming prisoners who are sent to Mars rather than sentenced to death on Earth. Falling Onto Mars won the 2003 Hugo Award for Best Short Story.
Falling Onto Mars is a very short story told from the point of view of a great great grandchild of one of the prisoners exiled to Mars. The narrator gives a brief history of how prisoners came to be sent to Mars in the first place, and then tells the story of Jared Vargas and his wife Kayla. Interesting, sad and humorous in places, this story reminds us that future penal colonies could very well mimic old ones.
In the middle of the twenty-first century, the last of the governments on Earth abolished the death penalty, but they found that they had not yet abolished killing or rape or terrorism. Some criminals were deemed too vicious to rehabilitate. These were the broken ones, the ones too cunning and too violent to ever be returned to society. To the governments of Earth, shipping them to another world and letting them work out their own survival had been the perfect solution. And if they failed to survive, it would be their own fault, not the work of the magistrates and juries of Earth.
Where you can find Falling Onto Mars:
• Falling Onto Mars originally appeared in the July/August 2002 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact.
• You can read a free HTML version of Falling Onto Mars online at an archive of Analog’s website.
Geoffrey A. Landis, the author of Falling Onto Mars, holds a Ph.D. in physics and was a member of the Sojourner Rover team on the successful Mars Pathfinder mission in 1997. You can learn more about him by viewing the biography on his website.