The “Face” On Mars

An Interview With Richard Hoagland

I’ve never doubted there was life on other planets. Common sense suggests it (as well as every science fiction book I’ve read since I was twelve). But as one planetary probe after another turned up nothing but rocks or swirling, poisonous gases — no life and no evidence of any ancient civilizations, at least in our own solar system — I lost interest. Either “they” would find us, or it would be quite a while before we could extend the search to other stars.

Planetary Mysteries by Richard Grossinger has rekindled my interest, to put it mildly. It now appears that one of those probes may have turned up something after all — a discovery so improbable, so controversial, so mind-boggling, that NASA and the scientific establishment have disclaimed it, and it’s been left to a group of maverick scientists to sort through the scanty but highly suggestive data that points to the existence of a carved, mile-high, upward-looking human “face” on Mars and an adjoining “city” of pyramids.

Science fiction? Maybe. Perhaps even more extraordinary than this “proof” of extraterrestrial intelligence is the capacity of humankind to deceive itself. Certainly many reputable scientists have dismissed the “face” as a play of light and shadow. Perhaps they’re right. And I’ll confess to some ambivalence about printing this: I’m sure the “face” isn’t a hoax, but it may turn out to be a big joke, just another pile of rocks, about as historic a discovery as the man in the moon. If so, no one will be laughing but us lonely humans. If not, if the “face” is artificial — left behind, perhaps, by intelligent beings from outside the solar system — now isn’t too soon to start asking why.

What follows is an edited version of Grossinger’s interview — which appears in its entirety in Planetary Mysteries — with Richard Hoagland, reporter and science writer and former consultant to Walter Cronkite and CBS News. Hoagland, who helped design the Pioneer 10 Plaque — humankind’s first interstellar message — is as knowledgeable as he is impassioned about Mars. His own book, Monuments on Mars: A City on the Edge of Forever (to be published next year by Grossinger’s North Atlantic Books) is a voluminous study of the search for life on Mars since the nineteenth century, the various space missions and their discoveries, and the different scenarios and interpretations of the “face.”

Planetary Mysteries contains, in addition to the interview with Hoagland, an article by Rolling Stone writer Jeff Greenwald on the social and political issues involving Mars, as well as other provocative essays on megaliths and glaciers. The revised edition is available for $12.95 plus $1.00 for postage and handling from North Atlantic Books, 2320 Blake Street, Berkeley, California 94704.

[Grossinger was co-editor of Nuclear Strategy and the Code of the Warrior, an excerpt of which appeared in Issue 125 of The Sun.]

Another book on Mars has just been written by anthropologist Randolfo Rafael Pozos. The Face on Mars: Evidence for a Lost Civilization is a chronicle of the computer conference which Hoagland and Pozos convened in order to have an interdisciplinary team of scientists look more closely at the “face” and the “city.” It’s available from the Chicago Review Press, 814 North Franklin, Chicago, Illinois 60610, for $12.95 plus $1.00 for postage and handling.

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