Saturday, June 15, 2013

Ashley Sterne Mysteries of Mars

Now that I have posted all of the comic articles that I transcribed from Pan magazine, my posting of Ashley Sterne articles will probably return to being quite infrequent.  But from time to time the National Library of Australia digitizes some edition of a regional newspaper containing a previously unavailable Ashley Sterne article.  Such was the case with the following very short article, which was digitized and put on the NLA website last week.

Mysteries of Mars
By Ashley Sterne
(Republished on 22 Jan 1921, The Port Macquarie News and Hastings River Advocate)

A few weeks ago my friend Pottleby, who is a very scientific sort of chap, stopped me in the street and said:-

"I say, old top, do you know that to-night Mars will be only 38,000,000 miles away?"

"You don't say so!" I cried, instinctively ducking my head.  "Well, don't go too near it."

"Yes," Pottleby went on, "Mars hasn't been so near the earth for nine years."

"The beastly snob!" I exclaimed.  "What are we to do about it?"

"Observe it," he said.  "Why, man to-night every telescope in the world will be turned upon Mars to see whether what the astronomers think are canals are really canals or – "

"Or only the overflow from the bath-room,"  I interposed.

Pottleby waved me into silence with his umbrella.  "Or whether they are natural rivers or seas," he concluded.

"Yes," I said.  "If that can only be settled, the cost of living should be reduced at once.  We should have more coal, more sugar, complete suits of clothes from a shilling downwards – "

"You don't quite grasp my idea," said Pottleby, interrupting.  "Don't you see what a tremendous gain such knowledge would be to science?  Why, if the canals in Mars are proved actually to be canals, it will show that Mars is inhabited; whereas if they are only rivers or seas, the question will still be 'sub judice.'"

"Just so," I agreed; "either that or 'nux vomica.'"

Pottleby shook his head and walked on.

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