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$187 pledged of $6,000 goal
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By Tom Chmielewski
$187 pledged of $6,000 goal
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Martian terraforming in song

The events in Shalbatana Solstice take place during a festival at a remote science outpost. The outpost is located on the ridge of Shalbatana Valley, site of an ancient lake bed long turned to dust. As one might expect at a festival, there is music. One key song heard just as the Martian "Null Time" begins at midnight is performed by a part-time folk singer and full-time scientist at the outpost.

You can hear part of the song in my introduction video, but I thought you should hear the complete song as performed by its non-fictional writer Daniel Bouwman, with an elegant violin accompaniment by Veronica Rose Cieri. In the story, the song will be sung by a female character who emigrated from New Zealand to a new world. just as her ancestors did in the 1800s from England to their new land. As might be expected from someone born of pioneer stock, she is determined to transform Mars into a habitable home. But she is also part Māori, the native people of New Zealand, and that part of her quietly questions the wisdom of radically remaking an alien world.

The violin's counterpoint to the determined words of the song echoes an argument that has gone on for some time, and likely will become more vigorous in the future: How much should we change Mars, and how much will we allow Mars to change us?

Taking requests

Waves of Shalbatana was written for the short story, but thee will be snippets of other songs heard during the festival. I tried to include a raucous version of Rocket Man, but the rights management team for Elton John wouldn't go for it. But if anyone out there has rights to a filk song or any song that might fit in and is willing to let us record a few lines, let me know.

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Getting started

This has been a phenomenal week for Mars exploration with the successful and spectacular landing of the Mars Science Laboratory, popularly named Curiosity. The rover is still checking out systems and uploading new software to prepare for its one-year journey – as counted on Mars, two on Earth – across the Martian surface up a mountain at the center of Gale crater. I'll continue to post blog entries and photos on MartianSands.com, and host news feed from NASA, Mars Today and others, as Curiosity begins its journey of exploration.

I rather feel the MartianSands Kickstarter campaign is still gathering itself for its own journey to explore the ways of crowdfunding. It, too, has a fairly high mountain to climb, though I have received support and advice from project creators who have successfully climbed their own mountains, some much higher. For those who have supported this project, and for those still thinking about it, I hope you can spread the word across the Internet through likes on Facebook and postings on LinkedIn and blog sites. And if you are still thinking about it, why don't you put a dollar in so you can give it some real thought. Even a $1 pledge is important to help create momentum so this project's wheels can begin turning, just as Curiosity starts turning its own wheels on the Martian sands.