Welcome to Mars


Arriving today—and barely surviving the postman’s attempts to cram it through the letterbox—is the latest volume from Strange Attractor, Welcome to Mars by Ken Hollings. I’m really looking forward to reading this since it touches on areas of interest which span the development of Cold War technologies to pulp science fiction, examining the interconnections between these disparate zones; most histories of the period prefer to stay in one area or the other. A glance at the chapter titles immediately pushes my buttons: “1947 Rebuilding Lemuria”, “1951 Absolute Elsewhere”. If all that wasn’t enough there’s an intro by Erik Davis and the first 250 copies come with a CD of “classy analogue Outer Space exotica” by Simon James. Order from the SA Shoppe and get a free postcard!

Welcome to Mars is a map of the post-war Zone, a non-fiction Gravity’s Rainbow that follows the arc of Germany’s V2 rocket to the end of the rainbow – to America.’ Erik Davis

Welcome to Mars is an iconoclastic, penetrating and darkly humorous history of America from 1947-1959, the decade in which the nation defined its image and created the blueprint for the world we live in today.

Welcome To Mars draws upon newspaper accounts, advertising campaigns, declassified government archives, old movies and newsreels from this unique period when the future first took on a tangible presence. Ken Hollings depicts an unsettled time in which the layout of Suburbia reflected atomic bombing strategies, bankers and movie stars experimented with hallucinogens, brainwashing was just another form of interior decoration and strange lights in the sky were taken very seriously indeed.

Seamlessly interweaving developments in technology, popular culture, politics, changes in home life, the development of the self, collective fantasy and overwhelming paranoia, Hollings has produced an alarming and often hysterically funny vision of the past that would ultimately govern all of our futures.

“Ken Hollings shows brilliantly how the extraordinary web of technologies that drove the Cold War have shaped not just our culture but the very way we think of ourselves as human beings. Welcome to Mars offers a rare and fascinating glimpse of the roots of the strange humanoid culture we live in today.” Adam Curtis

‘Ken Hollings has placed his critical focus at the precise point where the high technologies of information control and social manipulation intersect the passionate search for scientific ways to probe the human mind. Welcome to Mars is a searingly accurate and deeply disturbing exposé of the fantasies of American modernism that have inspired the many nightmares and the few hopeful visions of our new Millennium.’ Dr Jacques Vallée

Previously on { feuilleton }
SAJ again
Strange Attractor Journal Three
How to make crop circles

3 thoughts on “Welcome to Mars”

  1. Hi John,

    Hope you’re well. I was looking for your post on Barney Bubbles from 2007 and was totally blown away by how that’s developed. Amazing stuff: nearly two year’s of comments. Have to say congratulations, you’ve done us all a massive service there. Although that’s not why I’m commenting here.

    Have you got into this book yet? It sounds just the sort of thing I’m looking to read right now so I’d be very interested to hear what you think of it. I’ve been reading vintage Asimov lately and what’s fascinating is how he thought the future might turn out from where he was in the 50s (before the micro-chip!). The older stuff is kind of “quaint” now.

    Love the cover – a bit sinister, a bit “Strangelove”.

  2. Hi Richard. I’m not exactly unbiased with regards to this book since the publisher is a friend and I’m predisposed to the subject matter. Only just started reading it but the parallels he draws are fascinating, for example noting that people moving into the new American suburbs in 1947–built in part to disperse the population away from the nuclear targets of city centres–would be able to listen to Music Out of the Moon, an album of theremin mood music released that year. The book is full of this kind of cross-cultural stuff and the phrase “Absolute Elsewhere” shows that Hollings is aware of the precedent for this approach in Pauwels and Bergier’s The Morning of the Magicians.

    Another good parallel aside from P&B would be Adam Curtis’s great TV series, especially The Century of the Self. It’s no surprise that there’s a quote from Curtis on the back.

    Re: BB. I’m still surprised myself that a single post generated so much interest. One of the things I’ve tried to do with this blog is spot areas of cultural neglect and it was your post about In Search of Space which made me realise there wasn’t much about Barney’s work on the web. The great thing about these new forms of communication is being able to focus attention then have your own horizons broadened as people gather with information of their own.

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