My son sent me a birthday card the other day, a digitally painted holograph of dinosaurs that dance across the edge of my desk, most of them playing bugles, trombones, and French horns, with a few carrying a banner that reads, “Hope You Have a Great One, Mom!” The data package from Korolev must have been fairly expensive, I realize. It would’ve traveled almost four hundred million kilometers over the course of at least twenty minutes, not accounting for compression and decompression, so I feel more than a bit ungrateful when I can’t fully bring myself to enjoy the gesture.
It’s probably because my editor’s still emailing about the Martian Mother piece, the one he thinks will connect with the thousands of parents who’ve found their children scattered to the solar winds, to the crater cities somewhere on that faraway red planet. He’s angling for a feel-good human interest story, he tells me, a sense of what it’s like to be an ordinary mama looking off from the repose of her rocking chair, bosom swelling with maternal pride at the thought of those brave explorers—a story about the optimism and magnificence of science fiction made into science reality.
But watching the projection of those miniature dinosaurs buzzing around with that cloying brass band, my eyes linger on one of the smallest, dawdling toward the back, the kind with a long neck that I can never remember, a Brachiosaurus or Brontosaurus.
This feels more like a ghost story than science fiction to me.