The Double Shadow: A Clark Ashton Smith Podcast

Listener Contribution: Seedlings of Mars or “Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm”

The post below comes from listener Chris, who, after reading, sent us her thoughts and asked if we’d be interested in putting them on the site. The short answer is yes, but…we’d like to know if other listeners have interest in our doing this and if they have their own thoughts/feedback on episodes which they’d like to share. If you really don’t like the idea, please email us vs. leaving anything mean for Chris, if you have positive/neutral feedback, email or comment away.

We also have the forums for various kinds of discussion.

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The “Seedlings of Mars” is funny, but not really, once you reach the end – it has all the makings of a comedy: an anal retentive elder statesman scientist, who, despite being a scientist is SO hidebound and close-minded that anything which doesn’t fit into his already decided upon universe of scientific rules and regulations is seen as a blasphemy. His mirror, a more liberal-minded scientist, is decidedly open to the possibility that different worlds = different rules=not a threat.

Perhaps he’s a little TOO open-minded, because the gigantic, pompous plant that abducts him, his colleague, three pressmen, the mayor of Berkley, and the police chief of the same to Mars, well, is giving off red flags (flowers?) right and left. Problem is, they’re so busy looking at the outrages and wonders of their captor to notice a few “hmmmmmmmmms”.

First, it appears to have shaded out/destroyed any and all competition (including creatures suspiciously resembling US) be it plant or animal.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

It has rendered the entire planet barren in order to sustain it’s near immortal self. Earth is nearby. Earth is pretty… juicy.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

It’s been watching us, taking notes, and wellllll, getting ready to cut a deal, a deal that’s almost too good to be true: transmit stuff from seawater that we don’t need to Mars, and we get all sorts of shiny toys in return.

Red flag, anybody?

It’s all suspicously like saying to a Native American tribe, “In return for this handful of nifty cheap glass beads, you guys move over here to this nice reservation and stay put. In return we’ll get all those nasty, shiny yellow rocks and that  sticky black gunk that oozes out of the ground…”

Soon, the Native Americans are stuck (or dead) on a barren patch of land nobody wants and the other party involved owns everything worth owning. Can we all say “Hmmmmmmmm…”?

It’s suspicious that the more conservative, paranoid members of the party escape with little or no chagrin on the part of the plant that devoured Mars. They are allowed to preach the word of the upcoming invasion if they aren’t ready to fight back – fanning the flames of ignorance and fear, setting the stage for the more “enlightened one’s” return.

Again, hmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

The enlightened ones arrive – chaos ensues, governments collapse, defenses are divided – and lo and behold the benefactor from Mars rescues the enlightened few and sends them to Venus as the scions of a new, enlightened society. In order to build this new paradise, the ecosystem of Venus is purged of (wait for it, wait for it!) UNDESIRABLE ORGANISMS with the help of the near Godlike Kudzu of Mars.

Meanwhile, the remains of the human race left behind to wallow in their ignorance and fear wake up one day to find a big-ass seed in their midst; a big ass seed which rapidly sprouts and takes over, killing everything in it’s path…

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm… INDEED!

All the while, the paradise that is the dark side of Venus flourishes in its rationalism, all inconvenient life forms eliminated… it’s all skittles and beer for the ones who chose the path and the pretty toys of the Kudzu from Mars… I wonder how long it will be before the new Venusians wake up one day to find a big ass seed in THEIR midst, having prepared the ground for it without even realizing what they did.

Anybody beside me figure that the winners in this story aren’t the rationalist enlightened individuals who went along with the Vine That Ate Mars but a great big manipulative Vine That Ate Mars and it’s seeds – SUCKERS!!!

Tell the truth, this story should be read aloud with the voice of Peabody the dog from the “Rocky and Bullwinkle Show” – the joke is on humanity, regardless of the side it took.

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  1. The story is so misanthropic, in the true “human beings both suck AND are doomed” sense. I love that Smith totally mocks the patriotic, square-jawed Men of Science mode (the scientists trying to defend Earth from the Plant), but I find it hard to believe (although I guess it’s possible) he’s non-ironically celebrating the other side who totally rolls over and surrenders to the Plant and becomes its New-Agey prophets, abandoning the planet and their less-enlightened comrades. Oh well, c’est la vie.

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