Many years ago I wrote a short story titled "The Great Moon Hoax or A Princess of Mars."
The story featured Howard Hughes, President John F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, assorted scientists and a few Martians. The idea behind the story was this: NASA and the U.S. government have not been telling us the truth. The Apollo lunar landing program was a hoax. Venus is not the arid, blazing hot planet we've been told it is; it's a lush Mesozoic jungle, replete with dinosaurs.
Most importantly, there's an intelligent civilization on Mars that has crisscrossed their dying planet with canals in the hopes of bringing precious water from their polar icecaps to their parched cities and farmlands.
And, oh yes, all those tales of UFOs and the flying saucer that crashed in the New Mexico desert in 1947 are true.
Now, on this first day of April, I can finally tell you that my story is real. UFOs, intelligent Martians, all the tales that have been dismissed by the government as "wild fantasies" are absolutely, positively, completely true. On this day of all days, it's time for me to fess up.
In 1947 a flying saucer crashed in the New Mexico desert. It came from Mars. Its crew was hurt. Fortunately, they were discovered by an astronomer who was vacationing in the desert.
Injured though they were, the Martians convinced the astronomer to keep their presence a secret. By the time Army investigators arrived on the scene, the astronomer had successfully hidden the Martians away. What convinced the astronomer to cover up the fact that intelligent Martians had crash-landed on Earth? The Martians, a century or so ahead of us technologically, understood that their planet was dying. Mars was drying out, turning into a desert world.
The planet-wide system of canals that the Martians had built were nothing more than an expensive stopgap. Mars needed water, and needed it badly.
So the Martians developed space flight. They built flying saucers to go out, find water and bring it back to Mars.
There was plenty of water on Earth, but Earth was populated by the human race, which is not only very aggressive (wars and such) but highly xenophobic (look at our science-fiction stories about Earth being invaded by evil aliens).
The Martians are neither aggressive nor xenophobic. They are by nature gentle and loving. Their technology may be a century ahead of ours, but their ethical standards are thousands of years beyond ours. The average Martian would make St. Francis of Assisi look like a hoodlum. And that's the average Martian.
The Martians realized they could never deal with the brawling, bruising human race.
So they decided to go to Venus, instead. Beneath its perpetual covering of clouds, Venus is a tropical jungle from pole to pole. Swampy. Big oceans and lakes. Plenty of water. And since the highest form of life on Venus is dinosaurs, there'd be no trouble with an intelligent civilization.
So the Martians set out for Venus. But their flying saucers were new, untested. Most of them failed on takeoff. A few got into space, but were never heard from again.
One of them crash-landed on Earth.
That lone astronomer who found the injured Martians brought them to Howard Hughes. Hughes recognized the Martians' plight and devoted the considerable resources of the Hughes Aircraft Corp. to building flying saucers that worked right.
A tight little cabal of scientists subverted NASA's space exploration program, so that most of the human race never learned of the Martians' existence. If we knew that intelligent creatures inhabited Mars, our first instinct would be to nuke 'em.
Even if we didn't react with knee-jerk fear, we humans would have smothered the Martians in short order. We would have sent missionaries, real-estate agents, tourist organizers, social workers and who-knows-what-else to Mars. The gentle and loving Martian civilization would have been wiped out in a few decades.
So we faked the moon landings and covered up the fact that Mars is covered with canals. All the UFO stories are true.
And, by the way, happy April Fools' Day.