Mars: From the Atlantic, 1895

—We have proof positive that Mars has an atmosphere; we have reason to believe that this atmosphere is very thin and that in constitution it does not differ greatly from our own, and that it is relatively heavily charged with water vapor. One deduction from this thin air we must, however, be careful not to make: that because it is thin it is incapable of supporting intelligent life. That beings constituted physically as we are would find it a most uncomfortable habitat is pretty certain. But lungs are not wedded to logic, and there is nothing in the world or beyond it to prevent, so far as we know, a being with gills, for example, from being a most superior person. . . .

—The telescope presents us with perhaps the most startling discovery of modern times—the so-called canals of Mars. . . . The canals show a remarkable attachment to their kind. Not content with such casual meetings as chance would afford them in the course of their long careers, they make a point of rendezvousing as often and in as great numbers as possible. The meeting-places, or junctions, evidently possess an attraction for the canals. The crossings, in fact, seem to be the end and aim of the whole system. . . .

—Let us review, now, the chain of reasoning by which we have been led to regard it probable that upon the surface of Mars we see the effects of local intelligence: we find, in the first place, that the broad physical conditions of the planet are not antagonistic to some form of life; secondly, that there is an apparent dearth of water upon the planet’s surface, and therefore, if beings of sufficient intelligence inhabited it, they would have to resort to irrigation to support life; thirdly, that there turns out to be a network of markings covering the disc precisely counterparting what a system of irrigation would look like; and, lastly, that there is a set of spots placed where we should expect to find the lands thus artificially fertilized, and behaving as such constructed oases should. . . .

—To talk of Martian beings is not to mean Martian men. Even on this earth man is of the nature of an accident. He is the survival of by no means the highest physical organism. He is not even a high form of mammal. Mind has been his making. For aught we can see, some lizard or bactrachian might just as well have popped into his place in the race, and been now the dominant creature of this earth. ... If astronomy teaches us anything, it teaches that man is but a detail in the evolution of the universe, and that resemblant though diverse details are inevitably to be expected in the host of orbs around him. He learns that though he will probably never find his double anywhere, he is destined to discover any number of cousins scattered through space. —Percival Lowell