Welcome to Mars is a captivating look at the culture of postwar America and its dream of limitless technological and human development. Utilizing declassified government archives, newspaper records, ad campaigns, and B-movies of the period, Hollings weaves an intricate web of Cold War politics, UFO scares, psychedelic research, and 1950s pop culture. From the atom bomb and suburban planning to the space race and little-green-men movies, Welcome to Mars shows the startling connections between science fact and science fiction, a feedback loop in which real technological advances and government experimentation gave rise to science fiction fantasy, which then fed new innovation and research.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Scenes From A History As Yet Unwritten
Chapter 1--1947: Rebuilding Lemuria
Chapter 2--1948: Flying Saucers Over America
Chapter 3--1949: Behaviour Modification
Chapter 4--1950: Cheapness And Splendour
Chapter 5--1951: Absolute Elsewhere
Chapter 6--1952: Red Planet
Chapter 7--1953: Other Tongues, Other Flesh
Chapter 8--1954: Meet The Monsters
Chapter 9--1955: Popular Mechanics
Chapter 10--1956: 'Greetings, My Friend!'
Chapter 11--1957: Contact With Space
Chapter 12--1958: Mass Hysteria
Chapter 13--1959: Teenagers From Outer Space
Conclusion: Thinking the Unthinkable
List of Illustrations
"In Welcome to Mars, Ken Hollings details how Cold War politics, altered states of consciousness, extraterrestrial beings, postwar optimism and imagination came together in a strange maelstrom during the 1950s... Hollings approaches each year of the decade like a midcentury radio broadcaster, stitching together the various myths, facts and events into a brilliant cultural and scientific history... A highly entertaining examination of the postwar decade's obsession with the weird and otherworldly, which shaped both science and culture."
"Ken Hollings shows brilliantly how the extraordinary web of technologies that drove the Cold War have shaped not just our culture but the very way we think of ourselves as human beings. Welcome to Mars offers a rare and fascinating glimpse of the roots of the strange humanoid culture we live in today."
—Adam Curtis, director of The Century of the Self and The Power of Nightmares
"Ken Hollings is a master at connecting the dots between avant garde art history, outré culture, weird science, and basically everything that interests me."
—David Pescovitz, coeditor of Boing Boing
"Welcome to Mars is a map of the post-war Zone, a nonfiction Gravity's Rainbow that follows the arc of Germany's V2 rocket to the end of the rainbow—to America."
—Erik Davis, author of Techgnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information
"A searingly accurate and deeply disturbing exposé of the fantasies of American modernism that have inspired the many nightmares and the few hopeful visions of our new Millennium."
—Dr. Jacques Vallée, computer scientist and astronomer