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Welcome to Mars: Fantasies of Science in the American Century, 1947-1959 Paperback – 30 Oct 2008

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£11.99 FREE Delivery in the UK. Only 2 left in stock (more on the way). Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Strange Attractor (30 Oct. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0954805488
  • ISBN-13: 978-0954805487
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.3 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 997,455 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
In this book Ken Hollings examines several key strands in American culture immediately following the Second World War: the fear of nuclear annihilation, the proximity of space (taking the form of flying saucer panics, alien contact fantasies and the more mundane space race against the Soviet Union), the growth of suburbia and the studies of human consciousness that included LSD research and investigations of "brain-washing". As well as narrating events in these areas during the late 40s and the 1950s, he examines the way in which a society's concerns and self-image were fed back to it through the medium of popular culture, in particular science-fiction B-movies (the image of the feedback loop, of course, itself derives from the new science of cybernetics).

There are connections between these spheres, of course: to pluck one example from many, the developer of some of the earliest planned suburban communities had begun his career building secret housing, not appearing on any maps, for workers in the atom bomb programme. Personnel appear and reappear in the different strands of the story to the extent that it can be difficult to keep track, which is perhaps the point. Hollings' modus operandi is the rapid shuffle between narratives, the jump cut that juxtaposes two strands: his chronological framework commits him to this rapid switching, but it is also one of the means whereby he builds up a convincing structure. In the end, this is perhaps not so much history, or at least orthodox "balanced" history (in which one would be required to look more closely at how representative certain figures actually were), as one history, one possible use of the facts, a paranoid riff in which images from reality are selected and juxtaposed in cut-up fashion.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are a fan of The Illuminatus Trilogy and/or Adam Curtis' work on television (Century Of Self, Power Of Nightmares, The Trap), then you'll be on familiar territory with Ken Hollings' 'Welcome To Mars'.

Welcome To Mars examines the period immediately after WWII, and the American Miltary/Industrial complex's dark mirror of the burgeoning science fiction which was prevalent in the mainstream consciousness of the era. Hollings draws dark parrallels which takes in the 'Red Terror' undercurrents of Saucermen movies, the terrible and true-life tales of the Military/Industrial complex, utopian social engineering and their nutty (and invariably unethical) masterminds, mind control, dreams of life on other planets etc.

Slanted and selective in its view of history (as with Curtis' work), Hollings weaves a captivating and fantastically subversive take on post-war America. Tip-toeing carefully through the muddier parts of American history, Hollings skillfully navigates away from conspiracy theory territory (dont worry, no shape-changing lizards here!), essaying some of the more extreme ideas and experiments borne out of the paranoia of the era. Unbeleivably, nearly all of which are a matter of public record. Less a history, more of a meditation on America's post war empire building days (with one eye gazing at the stars).

Highly reccomended, especially if you can keep your wits, perspective and sense of humour around subject matters like these!
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Format: Paperback
The cover of WELCOME TO MARS is proof positive that a picture can be worth a thousand words. On the copyright page we learn that one Jasmine Hromjak did the Cover Design - and what a potent, poetic, evocative, mind-boggling, nostalgic and so very humorous cover it is! Love, love, love the cover! It speaks in a UFO sighting instant of a time and place and mania and mind-set - and anyone with a smidgin of knowledge about America and the cultural and political climate of the '50's would be hard-pressed not to smile and also shiver some when looking upon this book's amazing cover. I only wish the book itself were commensurate to its cover.

Being a baby boomer myself, I was familiar with a great many of the topics covered in Ken Hollings' book - mainly those dealing with UFO sightings and the sci-fi films of the decade. The author assigns each chapter to a year in covering American cultural, political and scientific happenings, as the book's subtitle indicates. While the chronological deluge of people, places and things held interest it did so only up to a point: the point where it seemed I was reading a more densely packed "birthday" card, the kind that lists all the happenings in the year you were born, from the miraculous to the mundane. So that is what this book became, in the end. It is a blink-and-miss it approach that over time grows exceedingly tedious. A tidal wave washing everything and anything up on the shore of a reader's scrutiny. I dare say, if someone knows next to nil about this seismic decade in American history, the book may seem to be written in Greek. I know that if one never saw the films discussed, the discussions would by-and-large seem decidedly confusing, pointless and vague.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is really great for those who are interested in culture in the very fist place. To me, the space aspect comes the second; however it is for sure the ground on which the book is essentially built up. It explores the various areas in space and its roots in or reflections on culture. Hollings reveals 'dark' secrets which are unfamiliar to masses with his amazing writing skills. Hollings genius is sensible between the lines and the way he structures his arguments and he jumps between a variety of topic, all interconnected within the body of the book. A pleasure to read...
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