Log Entry 24: 7/13/2156
Captain Pir Van Wilken
If there’s one thing I have learned recently, it’s that times change and society always moves forward. I was one of the first to be part of the cryogenic flights exploration program for long range space exploration. To put it simply, we’re frozen while our ship travels and thawed out once it arrives. We do our work and do the same thing for the flight back. Sounds easy enough, but what high command forgot to tell us was that a lot happens when you’re expected to be gone for nearly twenty years.
I wasn’t expecting a hero’s welcome when the auto pilot landed the ship back at the old military base, but I did expect more of a reception than just the robot sent to greet me. At least they were kind enough to sent transportation with it so I wouldn’t have to walk. Looking out the windows of the transport, I took notice of how much the colony had grown since I had been away. Red rocky landscapes had been replaced with the green of nature and the grey colors of industry and life. Different, but no unexpected.
The central hub of the base finally showed signs of activity, and as I walked through the doors inside, I noticed many other people stopping to take a look at me. I suppose I did stand out in comparison to the rest of them given that my uniform was a dark blue while they wore colors of dark red and black. When I finally managed to stop someone and ask where I might find the commander of the base, he silently pointed me towards the officer’s mess hall before walking off. There were to many thoughts on my mind at the time to lecture the young man about his etiquette given my higher rank, but I was in too much of a hurry to give my return report to bother.
Stepping inside the officer’s mess hall, it didn’t take me long to notice that I didn’t recognize any of the officers sitting around a large table in the center of the room. They seemed too caught up in their conversation to take notice of me, but I couldn’t help listen to them fiercely debate each other, talking about things such as divine rights, constitutions, parliament, the crown, and other terms I was not familiar with. Finally noticing my presence, one of the men called out to me asking if I was a Parliamentarian or an Absolutist. I figured at this point they had been discussing politics, so I informed him that I had been a member of the Terran Progression Party and was loyal to the Terran Republic of Earth, which resulted in a massive uproar from the officers at the table. They began calling me spy, traitor, republican, and any other insulting term they could think of, until finally the first man took notice of my uniform and called for silence from the others. He asked me if I was the one who had arrived on the ship that had landed not long ago and I told him yes. He told me to sit down and began to explain what happened while I was gone. After years of rising taxes and unjust laws, the people of Mars, in defiance of Earth’s government, declared their independence and chose to crown the great General Alexander Washington as their king. After many years of fighting, the crown forces of Mars were victorious. This news was shocking to say the least, but I was also concerned and began asking him about the fate of other officers and commanders from the time that I left. Colonel Dornan passed away before the war even started after getting so furious at a new recruit that his heart finally gave out. Captain Tio he told me died in an airstrike early in the war, but that Captain Hernandez had been promoted to major and was serving at another base. Perhaps most surprising to me was learning that lieutenant Alexandrov, known for being inexperienced and often though of as unskilled, had survived and was serving as a member of parliament.
The man, whose name I finally learned was Colonel Royer, leaned back in his chair, finally finished answering my questions and telling me what had happened during the twenty years I was gone. The rest I would have to figure out on my own, but at this point I wasn’t sure what to do. Many of those I knew before had moved on with their lives and while I did still technically have a place with the military, I didn’t know what differences existed between Earth and Mars’s military structure, or if there were any differences. The colonel offered to assist me should I wish to join the Mars military. Perhaps I will take him up on that offer, but until then, I have received many requests from junior officers from the base to tell them about mars before its independence and about the old lands of earth which many of them have never visited. I wonder what the other men and women who went on the cryogenic exploration flights will think of this new world we have returned to and if we will integrate into this new system we will become a part of.
The story of Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle involves a character falling asleep for twenty years and waking up in an independent America that has started to develop its own sense of identity. This short parody journal entry is meant to be similar to the second half of the book and I wanted to try to keep certain details of the original story similar, but also framed in a different way such as Mars declaring independence, politics seeming to be an important part of this new independent identity, although I did choose to reverse it this time by having the revolutionary state be the monarchy rather than the republic this time. I also wanted to try to not have the Mars from before Pir leaves to be completely different from the Mars that he returns to. The America that Rip Van Winkle leaves and the one he enters into are different, but America hasn’t really developed a completely distinct culture in the book. People may be talking about politics more and may act a bit differently, but Rip is still able to adjust himself with relative ease. Similarly, I tried to add small details about uniform differences and Pir being unsure of how different Mars and Earth really are, but I tried to show that politics are starting to shape discussion and the direction of Mars. Maybe I didn’t present some details from the story in as much detail as I would have liked due to wanting to keep the length a bit limited, but I wanted to try to show these details in a different context. I think that Rip Van Winkle questions what it means to be an American and looks to answer that through politics and the politics of America while I wanted to try to present an identity for Mars as well that is also shaped more by its politics rather than a new and sudden cultural shift.