A book about colonising Mars by local author Les Watkins treads a line between fact and fiction.
A work of science fiction by Arkles Bay author Les Watkins, which caused a sensation around the world when it was first published in 1978, has re-surfaced as the inspiration for a documentary.
The subject matter appears not to have been as far fetched as first thought. The basis of the book, Alternative 3, is that the human race, facing extintion because of climate change, needs to evacuate to Mars.
Les, now aged 85, says he is bracing himself for further reaction with the recent republishing of the book.
“I was accused of scaremongering at the time, but it doesn’t seem such an extreme idea almost 40 years later,” he says. “The possibility of colonising Mars has become a hot topic.”
The documentary Packing for Mars, which was released last October and can be found on the internet, explores this issue further.
Les says he was overwhelmed with the reaction to a book which the former journalist wrote as a bit of fun while living in rural Devon in England.
Many took even the most extreme science fictional elements of the story, which included hundreds of prisoners being brain washed to serve as slaves in a colony in space, as fact.
“I was applauded for exposing a horrendous conspiracy by governments that included America and Russia, and vast numbers were terrified,” Les says. “The UFO believers had a field day. I made it clear that it was fiction, but some simply didn’t believe me.”
The book was repeatedly re-published and went into several languages including Japanese and Greek.
Les says the book was republished in an updated form last month after his son, Graham, noted that Packing for Mars quoted from the book.
Les has written many books, but Alternative 3 is his only work of fiction.
“It’s unexpected to have all this going on again, but interesting and all in good fun,” he says.
WIN an autographed copy of Alternative 3
Hibiscus Matters has one autographed copy of Alternative 3 by Leslie Watkins to give away.
To go in the draw write your name, address and daytime phone number on the back of an envelope and post to Alternative 3, Hibiscus Matters, Unit G, Tamariki Plaza, 18 Tamariki Ave, Orewa 0931.
Or message Hibiscus Matters on Facebook. Entries close February 19.