They cover the core reasons why having children (at least for the first fifteen or so years of settlement activity) is a taboo in the Ares Project universe: mainly, there’s no telling whether it will be safe to do so, and in small commercial settlements, babies and small children will consume scarce economic resources without near-term economic return. This originated early on in writing In the Shadow of Aresin the need to explain why Amber Jacobsen was still the only child on Mars after almost fourteen years of settlement activity, and the more we thought about the reasoning behind such a taboo the more real-world sense it made (and the more influence it had on her character and the story, especially the coming-of-age subplot).
Of course, in Ghosts of Tharsis and “He Has Walled Me In” we show that this taboo is starting to break down. This happens in large part because several of the settlements are large enough by the time these stories take place to absorb the economic impact.
It’s funny to see Rand and the commenters on his article echoing the sentiments we present in In the Shadow of Ares regarding Amber’s parents having a child on Mars and the continued reluctance of other settlers to have children. One criticism we received from several early readers of the manuscript was that it was unlikely that in a dozen years of settlement activity, nobody else would have had a child but Aaron and Lindsay.
Well…here’s an indication that it’s not so unlikely.
March 11 will see the release of Mars Needs Moms, a computer-animated Disney movie based on the children’s book by Berkeley Breathed. I’ve read the book to my children, and look forward to taking them to see the adaptation. It will be interesting to see if a film based on a 700-odd word story can stand on its own, or if it will be an afternoon wasted, a la The Polar Express.
Of course, I’m hoping for the former. Even if realism is out the window, anything that gets the next generation interested in Mars is a good thing. What I’d really like to see, however, is some realistic Hollywood fare to get kids excited about Mars. In the Shadow of Ares would be a great place to start.