First Neighborhood on Mars
The creator of The Sims imagines us on the Red Planet.
- By Will Wright
- Air & Space magazine, August 2012
Ryan Anson/AFP/Getty Images
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Following an uneventful quarantine period, Sasha was finally moved into her assigned “apartment.” That was a generous term for the 130-square-foot cubbyhole that would be her only private space in the colony. She was assigned to live in the singles district. If she decided to enter into a co-habitation contract with another colony member, they would be entitled to a larger space.
Having children was another matter. While MDC was willing to subsidize the transportation and housing of new colonists (between the ages of 25 to 30, with long work lives ahead of them), the corporation was much more reluctant to permit the additional resource burden of offspring. Only the most productive members of the colony got this award: an official birth license.
Sasha would be working in the bota-genetic labs initially. Here, hundreds of strains of Earth plants were being slowly engineered to increase their adaptation to Martian conditions. It had been decided decades earlier that it was more cost-effective to terraform only small areas of Mars at first, while at the same time adapting imported life-forms (first plants, then animals and humans) to the new conditions. Over time, the crops, animals, and people would truly become Martians, fully suited to their new homeworld. That was the plan, at least; the process would take many generations.
The culture of the colony was, on the surface, one of fierce independence. The unspoken truth was that the residents were still dependent on Earth, and far from self-sufficient. The social situation in the colony felt similar to that of any small town on Earth. News traveled fast, gossip was the coin of the realm, and secrets did not stay secret for long.
Sasha adjusted nicely to the strange new environment, her determination and boldness serving her well. She eventually found a life partner who worked in the terraforming group, and they were very happy in each other’s company, which helped a lot because their home was only slightly larger than a closet. Sasha’s quick thinking during the airlock breach of 2052 saved many lives in the colony, and she and her partner were rewarded with a birth license. The following year they conceived their first child, Anya.
While still in the womb, their daughter received gene therapy, an option her parents chose. She would be among the first people adapted, however slightly, to the conditions on Mars. Anya’s bones would be longer and thinner, her lungs larger and more resistant to carbon dioxide poisoning, her metabolism more attuned to the locally grown hydroponic food, and her physiology changed in other small ways.
Anya and others of her generation would be the first true Martians. Homo martialis was born.
Game designer Will Wright co-founded Maxis and his current company, Stupid Fun Club. His creations include SimCity and The Sims.