Author's Commentary: "Bird on Mars"
For the record, I have plans for Avery Daley, and if she knew about them, I’m sure she wouldn’t like Rowe all that much. I think I heard once that a quote was written on the wall of the writers’ room for the TV sitcom Cheers that went something like: “Make the writer’s life easy by making the character’s life hard.” So, sorry, Bird, I’m only getting warmed up!
I was really excited when I saw this topic pop up, not just because it gave me the chance to delve into the story of a character I’ve been thinking about for some time, but it also gave me the chance to dive into some very interesting science. Ag science. Ag probably isn’t featured in sci-fi as much as it deserves to be, considering the amount the various fields in agriculture have advanced over the past half century or so. I write all this with the smallest seed of an education on the topic, as for the past few years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with a group of very dedicated educators whose expertise falls right in line with Birdie’s professors, maybe just preceding them by a few decades.
I had the chance to have a great conversation about the “sci-fi” elements of the agriculture in this story with a brilliant plant geneticist who helped me to better understand some of the technical aspects necessary for the farming system Bird develops on Mars. He told me that some of this had come up with his students before, just probably not the setting or the mode of “harvesting” imagined here. I’m hoping that some of the passion for the subject that has rubbed off on me over the course of my learning just a tiny bit about Ag science might make it to the reader/listener of “Bird on Mars.”
It's a certainty that as we go forth into the stars, there will be innumerable unsung heroes who will make it possible. Undoubtedly, the little things most people don’t think about daily—like who cleans up our trash or where our food comes from—will continue to happen without much fanfare. But without the innovation, dedication, and hard work of these unsung people, we’d be a lot colder, a lot hungrier, and a lot less secure, both today and in the future.
Consider this my tip of the cap to the Ag scientists and farmers (and educators thereof) securing the foundation of our modern world.