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For Every Season of Passage, Mars, Mars, Mars

Erin celebrates the Mars Curiosity's successful landing with a look back at the best book about Mars EVER WRITTEN, Christopher Pike's The Season of Passage.

For Every Season of Passage, Mars, Mars, Mars
My upset cannot be put into words right now. MY UPSET IS OVERWHELMING.

BOOK REPORT for The Season of Passage by Christopher Pike

Cover Story: Groovy
BFF Charm: Nay!
Swoonworthy Scale: -485
Talky Talk: Batshit Insane
Bonus Factors: Vampires, Mars, Sex
Anti-Bonus Factors: Vampires, Mars, Sex(ual Assault)
Relationship Status: You Still Haunt My Dreams

Cover Story: Groovy

Man, I don't know what to say.  It was written in the 70s.  I remember the first time I read this book (not in the 70s), which was at a Christian camp called Mountain T.O.P.  It's in the Cumberland Moutains in Tennessee.  For some reason my Youth Group leader totally thought it was cool that I was carting this around in between building porches and dealing with The Ceiling of Cockroaches, but then again, my Youth Group Leader totally let us watch Salem's Lot and Night of the Living Dead at church lock-ins, so he was pretty awesome.  Is pretty awesome.  He's my Facebook friend!

ANYWAY, what I really remember about this cover was that if you took it off, the book was RED underneath.  This is a big deal because in the book, Jennifer reads a book with a red cover.  It was so spooky!  That's some Neverending Story shizz there, y'all!

Oh, but also, this is a terrible, terrible cover.  Why is Lauren crying blood?  Why is she naked?  Is that supposed to be Mars in the background?  Mars isn't ever going to show up that big on Earth unless we're about to collide.  Dumb!

The Deal:

HOO BOY.  Okay, y'all are going to have to STAY WITH ME HERE because this is Christopher Pike's FINEST NOVEL OF ALL TIME which means it has EVERY SINGLE CRAZY ASS SHIT THAT HE HAS EVER WRITTEN ABOUT in one book!!!  It's like the super all-in-one insanity special!

OKAY.  FIRST.  First there is this lady named Lauren.  Lauren is a DOCTOR.  She is the worst doctor I have ever read about in my entire life, but that is neither here nor there, until her incompetency becomes important, at which point her being the worst doctor ever is quite literally both here and there.  There being Mars, which is where Lauren is going.  You see, Lauren is an ASTRONAUT DOCTOR.  And she is on a mission to Mars!  It is 2004 and we apparently haven't managed to invent cell phones, the Internet or Ryan Gosling memes, but we can send some people to Mars.  Actually we can send some people to Mars twice, because Lauren's expedition is actually the second manned flight to Mars.  The first was by the Russians, who as we all know are cosmic powerhouses in 2004, and the threat of the Cold War is always going to be hanging over us, or whatever.  Man.  People in the Seventies were so short-sighted.  Don't they know we have moved on to hating Muslims by now?

Anyhooskies, the Russians never came back.  Earth lost communication with them after like the 4th day of their time on Mars, so the American expedition is formed to boldly go where several Russian men have gone before, and figure out what the hell happened to them.  The President thinks they may have been eaten by space monsters.  He's actually right, but we don't know that yet.

Joining Lauren on the trip to Mars are the following astronauts:  Commander Bill, who's a hardass and is married with seemingly no affection to Biologist Jessie, who is a Black Lady, because it is 2004 and America is very advanced about sending Black Ladies into space.  Jessie is Southern and has no personality beyond being Black.  Also on the trip is Pilot Gary, a suave, handsome man with big arms, and Professor Jim, a wise, old archeologist who is the only likeable character in this entire novel.  Also they have a computer on board!  His name is Friend, and he can talk!  WIll wonders never cease!

 **  GUYS.  I just had a power outage and lost 2000 words.  My upset cannot be put into words right now.  MY UPSET IS OVERWHELMING.  I will try to go on but please know that you missed out on the phrase "In space, lizard vampires will rape you and no one can hear you scream."  JUST KNOW THAT. **

I mean, I guess I just told you guys the plot.  There are rapes perpetrated by lizard vampires!  In space!  But let's try to get there one step at a time, shall we?  Before we talk about lizard vampire rape, let's talk about Terry and Jennifer.  Terry and Jennifer aren't going to Mars.  They're staying on Earth.  Earth is where the internet isn't, because Christopher Pike didn't predict that we'd have something like that in 2004.  So you're not actually reading this!  Because it doesn't exist!  Maybe you printed it out on your dot matrix printer.  Maybe I snail-mailed it longform to all of you.  I dont' know.  But let's discuss anyway.

Terry is Lauren's fiance, and he's a sexist jerk who thinks he's a Nice Guy.  He's also an alcoholic, a failed novelist, and a reporter for the made-up Houston Herald.  I'm pretty sure that Christopher Pike didn't visit or even research Houston, despite writing a book about ASTRONAUTS, because Terry is an alcoholic and yet he's never been to Warren's.  You can't be an alcoholic and not go to Warren's.  That's where alcoholics converge.  That's like saying you love cheese but you've never visited the dairy section at your grocery store.  Does not compute.

Anyway, Terry is kind of a deadbeat dumbass, but somehow Lauren the space doctor loves him anyway.  It's cause he makes her laugh and goes down on her a lot, I think.  Which, that's cool.  I mean that is definitely in my top ten list of qualities in a dude.  Somehow Terry managed to buy Lauren a two karat diamond engagement ring, even though he's broke all the time.  Maybe diamonds are super cheap in 2004. 

Terry is also inordinately obsessed with Lauren's little sister, Jennifer.  Jennifer is thirteen and OH MY GOD SHE IS AN ANGEL CHILD HER HAIR IS FULL OF SECRETSSSS.  Everyone loves Jennifer; they are like obsessed with her beauty.  Jennifer's main interests are reading, pyromania, and being fucking weird.  Fucking WEIRD, y'all.  Jennifer doesn't want Lauren to go to Mars, on account of how there are lizard vampire rapists there, but she won't actually say WHY Lauren shouldn't go to Mars, which is just annoying. 

While Lauren is going to and/or on Mars, Jennifer kills herself.  She does so by dousing herself in gasoline and lighting herself on fire.  Terry is overwrought and drinks a hole into his stomach lining because he's obsessed with stupid Jennifer.  But Jennifer isn't actually dead.  Actually she just dug up the body of another dead girl and then burned her, in order to trick the lizard vampire people into thinking she was dead.  See above, in re: being fucking wierd.

Okay, so!  On Mars, Lauren and crew find an alive Russian!  His name is Ivan, and even though he doesn't speak, constantly smiles, has creepy eyes and has managed to survive for two years on Mars, the crew isn't too suspicious of his presence.  Ivan wants to lead them into a vast underground cavern, full of a liquid that may or may not be water.  I dunno.  Lauren and Jessie never get around to testing it, because they're kind of shitty doctors.  It could be water.  It could be liquid nitrogen.  We don't know.  We'll call it The Cave Of Liquids.

Slowly but surely, Ivan starts turning everyone into lizard vampires.  Well, actually, he only ever turns Commander Bill into a lizard vampire.  Gary and Lauren are suspicious of Commander Bill, and become even more so once Professor Jim dies while exploring the underground canal with Commander Bill.  So Gary and Lauren decide to nuke the planet of Mars, in case there are more lizard vampires.  This plan proves successful, which is good, since it comprises like NINETY PAGES of the book.  Gary and Lauren put the nuke in the Cave of Liquids and trigger it to blow and narrowly escape The Cave of Liquids, like, by a foot and a half.  But they aren't affected by the blast.  In 2004 our nukes are very precise.

Gary, however, is injured in a subsequent tidal wave (yeah, I don't know) and Lauren accidentally feeds him blood, because, and again I just want to reiterate here, LAUREN IS THE WORST DOCTOR IN THE ENTIRE WORLD.  The assholes on Grey's Anatomy are all, "Daamn, Lauren!  You ain't even good enough to make it onto our spinoff show, Private Practice!"  The worst doctor.  Ever.

So anyway, Lauren accidentally turns Gary into a Lizard Vampire, because when he got injured, a drop of liquid from The Cave of Liquid got on his skin and created a Martian infection and now he's a lizard vampire.  He returns the favor by raping her during the flight back to Earth.  In space, lizard vampires rape you and no one can hear you scream.  Ha!  I worked that line in anyway!  Take that, power outage!

ANYWAY, so then Gary and Lauren come back to Earth and Terry's all, "man!  My fiancee is weird!  She has long fingernails and when I am in her company I keep thinking thoughts about how I want to rape people and shizz" and then Lauren does some killings and then tries to kill Terry but then Jennifer shows up and stakes Lauren to real death and The End.

But!  Wait!  There's more!  For the price of ONE novel, you actually get TWO stories, one of which is a really tedious metaphor!  Let's discuss it!

So, Jennifer the Special feels impelled to write down this story before she fake-suicides herself.  This is what it's about, in song form:

A long long time ago
Jen can still remember
How the Asurians had no water
Their king Katrine went to the Garden
Asked King Rankar for a pardon
Said maybe his lizard people
Could stay a while?

King Rankar was kind of iffy
Decided to kick him out in a jiffy
Taught Chaneen the power
of invoking the Messenger of FIre
Then Rankar left with Katrine
Alive again, he never was seen
This whole thing is not a dream,

"Those were the days," the story sighed.
So bye bye, simple plot's gonna die
Maybe clearer someday nearer
Now it's just a weird lie
Them good old lizards,
Need a scrubbing of lye

"Those were the days," the story sighed.
"A curse upon the earth" is the line.
Did you write the Book of Mars?
No, that was Jen; it isn't sparse
It's a little fucking weird, you ask meeee
In it, Katrine keeps advancing on
to the Garden, which is sweet as dawn
He really wants some water, he's dyiiiiing

Well, I know this plot gets kind of weird
Chaneen lets loose her sister Janier
It's a metaphor you see
for Lauren, World's Worst MD!
And Janier sweeps out and lights ablaze
Katrine's people, the lizard race
Do you recall this entire case?

"Those were the days," the story sighed.
So bye bye, simple plot's gonna die
Maybe clearer someday nearer
Now it's just a weird lie
Them good old lizards,
Need a scrubbing of lye

"Those were the days," the story sighed.
"A curse upon the Earth" is the line.
Now, Chaneen had warned Janier not to cross
The bridge beyond which Katrine was boss
But Janier chose to ignore her pretty sis.  Doop dee doop do doo do.
And captured by the king Katrine
She was tortured, raped; he's really mean
He told her to renounce her kiiiing
And while Janier was renouncing at last
The lizard sperm inside her was growing fast

This honestly is a disgusting story
I can't believe my Youth Leader let me read this . . .
Then Chaneen laid waste to the land
Katrine said his people would come back again
Chaneen's all, "bitch, I got this; scram"
So bye bye, simple plot's gonna die
Maybe clearer someday nearer
Now it's just a weird lie
Them good old lizards,
Need a scrubbing of lye

"Those were the days," the story sighed.
"A curse upon the Earth" is the line.

I HOPE THAT WAS INFORMATIVE.

BFF Charm: Nay!

Besides being the World's Worst Doctor, Lauren has a shitty boyfriend and is the world's worst guardian to Jennifer the Amazing. I hate Lauren.  I'm not glad she was raped by a lizard vampire, or anything, but it'd be kind of nice if she'd accidentally jettisoned herself into space while flushing the toilet.  I'm just saying.

Swoonworthy Scale: -485

Y'ALL.  There is SEX in this book.  WHAT UP.  Except that ALL OF IT IS INCREDIBLY AWFUL.  I mean, I was so excited to read about sex when I was 13 but this is almost as bad as VC Andrews and WHY DID I SPEND MY ENTIRE TWEEN YEARS READING ABOUT RAPE?  What is WRONG with me?  But, like, seriously, even the "good" sex is gross.  To wit, on Lauren's last free night before isolation, she can't have sex because she can't take her Birth Control pills and apparently a woman who is cool with flying in a tin can held together with glue bought from the cheapest subcontractor isn't okay with using a condom just once.  She is going to MARS.  MARS. FOR TWO YEARS.  And she's all, "nope, sorry, we can't do it because I can't take birth control pills right now."  I mean.  Condom.  Sponge.  Spermicidal lube.  Female condom.  Cervix cap.  Diaphragm.  The Prayer Method.  Pull Out.  Oral sex till stars explode out of your eyes.  SOMETHING.  Instead she and Terry have this exchange:

Terry sighed. "Now I'll never be able to get to sleep."

''We'll go for a walk and burn off the energy."

He tugged at her pants. "That never works. Now a hundred to one, those are pretty good odds."

Lauren opened the car door and slipped from reach. "We'll take a long walk," she said sweetly.

"Damn. Do I get a rain check?''

"In two years I'll give you Master Charge."

THAT IS CODE FOR DOING IT IN THE BUTT.  WHY DON'T YOU JUST DO IT IN THE BUTT NOW?

Talky Talk: Batshit Insane

You guys, this book makes NO FUCKING SENSE.  I mean, it DOES, in that I have written out what happens to the best of my ability but I think whoever edited this thing was VERY VERY HIGH ON LSD.  Because it is really just a terribly written and edited book.  It skips around; it doesn't explain things, and half of the scenes just sort of start in the middle of a conversation.  I was either too drunk or not drunk enough for this book.  I still don't know.

Bonus Factor: Vampires

Y'all!  These vampires are just like Barbara Mandrell.  They were country when country wasn't cool!  When nobody was looking, they were slipping peanuts in their Coke!  I kind of have to give it to CPike for writing such a fucking weird-ass vampire story that ties into, like, Space Wars and shit.  And these lizard vampires do not sparkle!

Bonus Factor: Mars

Oh hey hey!  What's up, fourth rock from the sun?  How you doin'?  Actually, we know how you doin!  Cause we're roving all over you and shizz right now.  OOPS stepped on one of your craters, sorry, dude!  Nothing but love!

Bonus Factor: Sex

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I mean, when you are 13, the fact that there's any sex in any book is kind of awesome.  And Christopher Pike is totally frank and open with the sex talk, which is kind of awesome.  There's no way shit this weird would make it into a book these days.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Vampires

UGH.  Vampires.  SO over them!

Anti-Bonus Factor: Mars

ON MARS THERE ARE LIZARD VAMPIRES.  You guys!  What if something happens!  What if a lizard vampire attacks the Curiosity?  WE NEVER SHOULD HAVE GONE THERE.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Sex(ual Assualt)

Dudes.  DUDES.  I am not a fan of rape, OBVIOUSLY, but I am even less a fan when the rapists has A SNAKE FOR A PENIS.  A SNAKE.  FOR A PENIS.

Casting Call:

Chloe Grace Moretz as Jennifer

I feel like Chloe could capture the ethereal WONDERFULNESS of Jennifer.

Katherine Heigl as Lauren

Lauren is dumb and I hate her.  So.

Relationship Status: You Still Haunt My Dreams

Book, when I got with you at the young age of 13, you freaked me out.  You gave me nightmares.  You were my violent boyfriend of a book.  You overloaded me with awful, horrible images and stories, and yet I came back to you time and again.  I couldn't stay away.

I thought this time, it'd be different.  I was more mature.  I knew what sex was, and it didn't involve lizard rapists with snake penises.  Plus, I'm better than you, right?  I may not have sent anyone to Mars yet, but at least I had an iPhone.

But you were just as freaky as I remember, book.  And I'm not too ashamed to say that I might have just had a few nightmares about you this time around.  Let's definitely stop eating Chinese food out on our dates, yeah?

Erin Callahan's photo About the Author: Erin is loud, foul-mouthed, an unrepentant lover of trashy movies and believes that champagne should be an every day drink. When she isn't drowning in a sea of engineers for whom Dilbert is still uproariously funny, she's writing about books, tv, the cult of VC Andrews and more.
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