Did a civilization once thrive on Mars? Shocking and revelatory, this expose takes a critical look at the mounting evidence -- and attempts to discover why it is being ignored.
NASA spacecraft continue to send back image after image of the Martian surface, providing the scientific community a knowledge of the Red Planet that was once the stuff of dreams. But not everybody is content to write the pictures off as snapshots of a lifeless world. Many people across the globe believe that evidence for a long-dead Martian civilization is plain to see. And while the subject has lit up the Internet and occupied the alternative press, nobody in government or mainstream media will touch it. Until now.
In After the Martian Apocalypse, acclaimed author and columnist Mac Tonnies paints a unique portrait of an unsettling planetary neighbor and the profound mystery that awaits us there. Detailing the very latest Mars discoveries, he presents new evidence favoring the existence of an extinct civilization on the Red Planet -- an enigma that has become mired in the politics of belief as it challenges our deepest notions of humanity's role in space. Blending a scientific detective story with trenchant cultural commentary, After the Martian Apocalypse is an uncompromising and utterly enthralling look at an ongoing cosmic controversy.
Praise for After the Martian Apocalypse...
"A stunning survey of the latest evidence for intelligent life on Mars. Mac Tonnies brings a thoughtful, balanced and highly accessible approach to one of the most fascinating enigmas of our time."
--Herbie Brennan, author of Martian Genesis and The Atlantis Enigma
"Two and a half years after it was published, I have just finished reading Mac Tonnies' book.
"Yes, I know him, and I wouldn't have published a review unless I actually liked it, but not only do I like it, I think it's one of the best examples of the "new" sort of thinking on anomalies that is the hallmark of good fortean, nay skeptical writing. Tonnies drops all predetermined opinions about Mars, and asks us to do the same.
"Skepticism, according to one Wikipedia definition is 'an attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity either in general or toward a particular object.' This indicates that when examining an issue (in this case the supposed artificial geoforms observed by our Mars probes) the researcher neither buys into the hype created by pundits like Richard Hoagland, nor the smug denunciations of debunkers.
"Tonnies begins his examination (as indeed he must) with a tour of the enigmatic Cydonian 'face.' NASA unintentionally created a furor when it released its first photo of the enigma, imaged in 1976 by the Viking orbiter. When it was re-photographed in 2001 (for the most part to mollify the cries of 'coverup') most of those who were still on the fence decided that yes, the face effect was a trick of the light on a natural formation. Tonnies takes a closer look and reports the discovery of an uncannily precise 'eye' structure exactly where one would expect to find it by a member of the Society For Planetary SETI Research (SPSR). 'Ironically enough,' he writes, 'official reticence to deal with the Face objectively might have more than a little to do with the disquieting possibility that it might be real.'
"But this is not the end. The Cydonia plain is home to a host of other strange landforms that defy ordinary assumptions of what geology and erosion can accomplish. Other features, such as an enigmatic 'fort,' numerous pentagonal 'pyramids,' and the 'Cydonia Hilton,' (a sizable collection of rectilinear forms) are concentrated in one area of the planet unlike any other. If these features were spread randomly across the surface of Mars, fundamentalist skeptics might be forgiven their rallying cries of 'coincidence' or criticism of belief in the reality of mere simulacra.
"One telling result of the effect of this book is the disdain that it has engendered in supporters of Richard Hoagland. In response to one of Tonnies' careful online analyses, he was surprised to find an email comment which read something like, 'Go back to the sandbox and let the adults get on with the real work.'
"Probably the best chapter in the book, and perhaps its most enduring, is entitled 'Memespace.' A meme is an infectious idea that catches on in popular consciousness and spreads like a virus. Tonnies mixes and matches ideas about the anomalies of Mars and examines how these have affected popular beliefs, and more importantly, each other. With a deft overview much akin to that of Keith Thompson in Angels And Aliens, Tonnies looks at the memes given birth by NASA, Hoagland, CSICOP, and SPSR and how they have battled each other for legitimacy. A 'good' meme appears legitimate, and may actually be correct, but it also catches on in the popular imagination at a basic, almost subconscious level. Most of the time, it also speaks to the way we want things to be. This doesn't automatically make it factually wrong, but in the world of fringe ideas vying for attention, it gives the meme a fighting chance. Hoagland's Enterprise Mission is presented as one of the best meme generators in the field. Others, like CSICOP, who stated in Skeptical Inquirer that all Face believers thought that the Face was the work of time travelers from the future, are held up as examples of unskilled meme creators, due to both the meme's ridiculous nature, and its de-evolutionary attitude. (Apparently this 'fact' was simply made up by the CSICOP writer.)
If we assume the reality of the Martian monuments, Tonnies speculates, we can also take a few educated guesses about why the Martians became extinct. He proposes (among other scenarios) a planetary emergency that dried up all the liquid water and forced the population underground while they were still building their megaliths. There, they waited for the slow death of their planet while planning for their legacy. Perhaps the Face and the other structures were built specifically as a signal to any spacefaring races who could get close enough to see the features. This 'Martian Apocalypse' may be a warning to Earth.
The fact that no one on either side of the Mars anomalies debate has come out in support of Tonnies' book or website is the best evidence that he is onto something. I do the book a disservice by discussing only a minute part of an eloquent overview. Taken as a whole, After The Martian Apocalypse arranges the issues on a playing field that is almost perfectly level. Perhaps the only complaint I have about the book is the lack of more photos and illustrations that are referenced the text. This may have had more to do with editorial and copyright decisions than anything else.
Tonnies is now poised to turn the Ufological world on its ear with the forthcoming publication of his book on the Cryptoterrestrial hypothesis. I predict that it will have the impact of John Keel's Operation Trojan Horse, but that this will not be recognized by the community at large until some of the doctrinaire old-timers are gone."
--Greg Bishop, author of "Project Beta" and co-founder of "The Excluded Middle"
"Mac Tonnies goes where NASA fears to tread and he goes first class. This Mac-martian knows how to write. Do yourself a favor and buy his book -- you won't be disappointed."
--Peter A. Gersten, Citizens Against UFO Secrecy
"Tonnies' approach to the complex and heated debate over extra-terrestrial artifacts is masterful in its simplicity. He attacks a topic fraught with emotion with a matter-of-fact tack, unconcerned that his book is likely to be unsettling to readers on all sides of the Cydonia issue. But that is the beauty of After the Martian Apocalypse . . . this issue is unsettling -- with no easy answers and no clear winners in the debate. Tonnies delivers the facts, and the possibilities, in an unbiased yet engagingly poetic fashion. I highly recommend the book for anyone interested in the search for extra-terrestrial artifacts, and the political intrigues that invariably accompany it."
--David Jinks, author of The Monkey and the Tetrahedron
"After the Martian Apocalypse takes a skeptical and open look at many of the surface anomalies on Mars. I found in it a good balance of healthy speculations and objective critiques of many of the lines of research these anomalies have inspired. It is neither a comprehensive scientific analysis nor synthesis of the technical lines of planetary SETI research. Rather it is written from the point of a reporter who has taken a great deal of effort to learn about what has been done by a growing number of researchers over more than a quarter of a century and the implications or their work. Much of the concentration of the book, and rightly so, is on the Face and the Cydonia complex. This book also discusses in some detail various aspects of the human dimension of planetary SETI from the 'true believers' to the 'pseudoskeptics.' The author does not shy away from criticism when he believes it is warranted. The main strength of the book is the variety of different angles from which the author examines the topic of planetary SETI. [...] I thoroughly enjoyed reading Mac Tonnies' book and highly recommend it."
--Dr. Horace Crater, President, Society for Planetary SETI Research
"To NASA's credit robotic space probes have returned thousands of fascinating images of the surface of Mars. In some of these images, certain unusual features, to some, appear to be artificial in origin, potential ancient artifacts of intelligent intervention. The growing body of evidence in support of theories of 'artificiality' has been accompanied by a growing body of literature on the subject. Along with peer-reviewed journal articles and other technical papers, an excellent series of books has been published. These include Hoagland's Monuments of Mars, Carlotto's The Martian Enigmas and The Cydonia Controversy, the SPSR's The Case for the Face, and Jinks' The Monkey and the Tetrahedron to name a few. Mac Tonnies' After the Martian Apocalypse contributes significantly to this literature in that not only does he review the history of the research from his own unique perspective as others have, but also explores the possibilities and implications such a profound discovery would raise. Drawing on his expertise in science fiction, he uses thought experiments that provide the reader ideas and potential scenarios. Tonnies also investigates how the internet now serves an important role in the way ideas are born, evolve, die, then maybe reborn in what he calls 'memespace.' Well written, this book does very well to introduce the subject to the uninitiated while at the same time provide a thought-provoking journey into possibilities and implications for the well versed. I highly recommend the book."
--John P. Levasseur, Society for Planetary SETI Research
"There has been an enormous amount of information written about the possibility that anomalies photographed on the Mars surface could be intelligently built. Mac Tonnies has taken on the unenviable task of presenting an updated look at the controversy. The result is a well-written, even-handed book that is sure to pique the interest of anyone even half-familiar with Martian anomalies.
"Besides Earth, out of all of the planets in the solar system, Mars was thought to be the most likely to harbor life. But when the first Mars probes began sending back close-up photos of the surface, scientists and dreamers alike were shocked to find a dry, crater-ridden planet, seemingly devoid of even the most rudimentary forms of life.
"However, these same photos also showed some unusual things scattered across the surface of the red planet, including formations of rocks that looked like pyramids and unusual tube-shaped features that snaked through vast canyons. As well, there were organic-looking objects that appeared to be giant trees or growths of coral. More importantly was a human face that appeared to be carved onto a hillside in an area of Mars called Cydonia.
"Since the first photos were published, there have been numerous books written about the anomalies, most of which have been either in favor of the ET hypothesis or completely skeptical. After the Martian Apocalypse, however, takes a refreshing look at these strange features and finds that a number are, indeed, natural formations or tricks of light and shadow. Life-on-Mars proponents should not despair, however, for Tonnies also finds that other Martian anomalies do appear to be intelligently constructed.
"Even though NASA has all but written off the Cydonian Face as a natural formation, Tonnies spends a great deal of time re-examining the photos and presenting evidence on why the face deserves closer inspection. Additionally, Tonnies insists that the features on Mars, if artificial, are not necessarily high-tech, as the civilization that built the Face may have been technologically equivalent to earthly Bronze Age societies. Yet there seems to be the impression that evidence of life beyond Earth is sure to plunge our society into social chaos. Maybe NASA just does not want to be the one responsible for instigating the collapse of our civilization.
"After the Martian Apocalypse makes a good point for scientific examination of the unknown, rather than presenting outright knee-jerk dismissals. As Tonnies points out, only by sending crewed missions to Mars will we be able to answer once and for all if Mars was once the home of intelligent life or simply another dead planet that is adrift in the darkness of space."
"Was there once intelligent life on Mars? Consider the Face, a remarkably human-like image located in the Cydonia Mensae region of the Red Planet. NASA says it's just a natural formation but, as science fiction writer Tonnies points out, it does look spookily human. He describes other findings on Mars that could be the remains of a pre-cataclysmic civilization: grids that recall a 'metropolitan infrastructure'; and the Fort, a seemingly artificial structure located a few miles from the Face. [...] [Tonnies] also calls for a manned mission to Mars to examine the Face and other phenomena to determine if they are natural or artificial formations. The value of reviving manned space missions is hotly debated in the scientific community; for those who feel its necessity is a given, Tonnies offers more fuel for the argument."
Simon & Schuster
Paraview Pocket Books
Mac Tonnies is an author/essayist whose futuristic fiction and speculative essays have appeared in many print and online publications. He's the author of Illumined Black, a collection of science fiction short-stories, and After the Martian Apocalypse (Paraview Pocket Books, 2004). Mac maintains "Posthuman Blues," a widely read blog devoted to emerging technologies and paranormal phenomena, and is a member of the Society for Planetary SETI Research. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where he writes, reads and surfs the Net. He is currently at work on a new book.