Prologue

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"We woke a world, a world within." —The Brontë Children


Once upon a time, the sun was hot. It was so hot, in fact, that the planet Earth was just a ball of molten rock suspended in a cloud of noxious vapors. Mars, on the other hand, was doing fine. It had a rich atmosphere back then—oceans, rivers, trees, a wide variety of animal life... even people.

All things considered, the people of Mars didn't look so very different from you or me. There was some variation in height, hair coverage, skull shape, and the like. But what are minor details like these among friends?

As the millennia wore on, much of the sun's heat dissipated into the endless vacuum of space. It still had plenty of heat to spare, but only for its closest neighbors. The change on Mars was so gradual that hardly anyone even noticed. Life went on, as it always does, adapting to conditions as they arose.

Oceans began to recede as more and more of their water found its way to the Martian poles, settling into those sprawling reservoirs of ice. Eventually, a comfortable place to live could only be found in one of the tropical regions near the equator—and even there it was starting to get rather chilly.

The people of Mars had to construct massive greenhouses to protect their crops from the increasingly frigid winds. It soon became common for more affluent families to take up permanent residence in these structures, but this was impossible for the impoverished majority. As conditions worsened, whole nations starved to death or froze in their sleep. Only a single domed oasis survived on the surface of Mars.

And all the while, Earth was coming into bloom.

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