22

In Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, do the Martians destroy a planet in orbit between Mars and Jupiter creating the asteroid belt?

I seem to remember there being an implicit threat to Earth because of this.

26

Yes, they destroyed the fifth planet in the solar system.

The question was of greater interest because it had not been abstract art, but religious (in the Terran sense) and strongly emotional: it described the contact between the Martian Race and the people of the fifth planet, an event that had happened long ago but which was alive and important to Martians in the sense in which one death by crucifixion remained alive and important to humans after two Terran millennia. The Martian Race had encountered the people of the fifth planet, grokked them completely, and in due course had taken action; the asteroid ruins were all that remained, save that the Martians continued to cherish and praise the people they had destroyed. This new work of art was one of many attempts to grok all parts of the whole beautiful experience in all its complexity in one opus. But before it could be judged it was necessary to grok how to judge it.

It was a very pretty problem.

The threat wasn't implicit, it was very very explicit.

Mike looked very sober. “Jubal, listen to a story. Listen all the way through.” Mike told him of the destruction of the missing Fifth Planet of Sol, whose ruins are the asteroids. “Well, Jubal?”
“It reminds me a little of the myths about the Flood.”
“No, Jubal. The Flood you aren’t sure about. Are you sure about the destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum?”
“Oh, yes. Those are established historical facts.”
“Jubal, the destruction of the Fifth Planet by the Old Ones is as historically certain as that eruption of Vesuvius—and it is recorded in much greater detail. No myth. Fact.”
“Uh, stipulate it as such. Do I understand that you fear that the Old Ones of Mars will decide to give this planet the same treatment? Will you forgive me if I say that is a bit hard for me to swallow?”

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.