By Lee Streiff
"In 1937 James Streiff and Bob Parks created ‘the Epic of the Martian Empire'; in 1942 Paul Carter added his vision of the Cosmic Vortex to it, and the Universe was never the same again..." Lee Streiff
Once we lived in the world of the Martian Empire, but that now seems like a long time ago ― it all began in those last remaining years before World War II changed our consciousnesses forever. It was an ephemeral, still time; a quiet space in which we could dream about the future without the burden of its consequences: ghastly war ― genocide ― the atomic bomb.
It was in 1937... and my brother James was 13, and in the eighth grade at Robinson Junior High School in Wichita, Kansas. And in James's mind he was fashioning a cosmic empire filled with strange and wonderful creatures and races ― in which a stalwart group of Exiles from the planet Mars were the chief actors and heroes.
This Empire, the Martian Empire, eventually spread over most of the known Universe before it finally faded away in 1948'. During the eleven years it flourished however, the Martian Epic became very elaborate ― covering some 15 billion years of Martian history — and Martian technology, manners and morals, art, music, religion, language and literature. And it generated a narrative Epic that encompassed many galaxies.
Although a number of people became involved in this epic ― Bob Parks, John Roth, Robert Frickel, Charles Goodrum, and Robert Arnold, among others ― it was first and foremost the vision of James, who worked out and brought together the maps, timelines, the celestial spaces, the customs, and the characters that made up the Martian Empire in all its diverse grandeur.
In early 1937 I was only four years old ― and so it was that most of my childhood and youth were somehow surrounded or suffused with the images and tales of the Epic. However it was not until I reached the age of eleven that I became the brief inheritor of, and participant in the affairs of the Epic itself.
It was during World War II in 1943. that I first took over the job of running the business of the Martian Empire while all of its members were away from Wichita, in the Army, Navy, and Air Force. Knowing that he would soon be drafted, James began grooming me for the task early in that year. He reported for active Military duty on June 3, 1943, and that changed the course of my daily life. I was now on my own, with a heavy responsibility,
I published The Martian News Letter, the official journal of the group, using carbon paper ― and a bit later a hectograph; published, The Order of Shultz, which circulated the business of the inner circle; reorganized The Files; answered correspondence among the far flung Martians scattered around the globe; and did research for a number of topics for James, using my contacts in the world of Science Fiction Fandom.
When James returned from active service in February of 1946, my task had been completed, and in any case, my interests were largely turning in other directions. By 1947, in my sophomore year at East High School, I was even leaving Science Fiction itself behind and was now involved in art and literature. But then that is another story.
In the Following seven Chapters, Lee Streiff describes in his "Guide to the Epic of the Martian Empire" of how the tales and creation of the Epic... all came about.
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Published January 2, 2013
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