A Trip To Mars

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"Created at the turn of the century, travel by airship appeared to be the great new excitement of the twentieth century. There is no reference whatsoever to aeroplanes, pointing at a possible date around 1902. There are many jokes about the impossibility of space travel - even the very idea was preposterous. On the lid of the game, the advertisement for 'marsconigrams' refers to the sensational achievement of Marconi, who sent a message 2000 miles from Cornwall to Newfoundland in December 1901." - Six Victorian & Edwardian Board Games, Olivia Bristol, Michael O'Mara, 1995


Two to four players
Choose a different coloured airship to fit in each counter holder
1 die

Who can reach Mars first? Throw the die to see who starts. Players or 'airships' start at EARTH on the right of the board and try to move to the outer circle where MARS is at the top lefthand side. Airships move the number of small circles indicated on the die in an anticlockwise direction. If an airship falls on a larger circle, then it is instructed to move either towards the SUN in the centre or outwards to MARS. If the airship is unlucky enough to have a disaster and fall into the SUN then the player is out of the game. To reach MARS the exact number must be rolled, otherwise the player must forfeit one go. If an airship lands on a circle already occupied, then the first ship must exchange circles with the invader.
Game board here.

  1. tim2ubh 61 months ago | reply

    It's a sad indictment of the 20th century that we never had interplanetary dirigibles.

    And I'm intrigued by the Martians - where did the bald-homunculus-in-a-dress look come from?

  2. Simon Crubellier 61 months ago | reply

    An excellent question... I seem to remember FT doing a piece on the evolution of the image of the 'little green man' many years ago, but beyond that, not a clue.

  3. Kordite 61 months ago | reply

    Before H.G.Wells wrote "The War of the Worlds", the image of any aliens that might be found on other worlds were almost exclusively men not much unlike ourselves. Taller. Shorter. Different colored skin. Variations, but still men and almost all less advanced as we were. As Wells said "At most terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise."

    Wells changed that by making the first truly alien aliens who kicked our asses technologically.

  4. Avant-Gardenist 61 months ago | reply

    shift forward now, into the past, by way of steam'shop

  5. buckaroo kid 61 months ago | reply

    I like the colander on the head!
    It does seem almost arrogant that the recognition of 'life' only usually extends to some comedy version of a human...

  6. Simon Crubellier 61 months ago | reply

    I think that's supposed to be her hair!

  7. Ben Scicluna 61 months ago | reply

    These martians look like thespians under the influence of alcohol.

  8. tim2ubh 61 months ago | reply

    I've just worked out who the right-most Martian reminded me of - it's moderately well-known comedian Lee Hurst.

  9. Midori no Saru 60 months ago | reply

    Tsuruta Kenji wrote a manga about the exploits of the "Scientific Boys Club," a bunch of old has-been scientists who get together and create inventions based on debunked scientific theories of the past.

    One of these...


    ...is to journey to Mars in an airship, on "etherial currents" (presumably based on the old idea of an "ether," disproved by the Michelson and Morley experiment into the speed of light.

    Old 1920s ideas of what Martians might look like...


    ...seem to be like Egyptians (ideas which recur recently, i.e. ideas of pyramids on Mars). Mongo of course was ruled by Ming the Merciless, a European man clearly pretending to be a Chinaman.

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