When you get a letter from a legendary science fiction author, you stop and take notice. When the letter claims that NASA space probes have spotted enormous forests on Mars and requests an investigation, you really take notice, though maybe not the way the writer had in mind.
That happened to me a few years ago when I opened my email to find an earnest exposé from Arthur C. Clarke, author of 2001: A Space Odyssey. He included links to images from NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor (the most advanced Mars orbiter at the time), showing vistas that really did resemble thick stands of giant trees. Clarke died in 2008, but ever since, I’ve been keeping tabs on the visual oddities of the Red Planet — and there is no shortage of them. In the past few years, Mars fanatics have identified objects that look like rats, rabbits, lizards, even a mermaid sculpture. Clarke’s forests still have their fans, too.