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Andrea Towers
October 01, 2015 AT 04:00 PM EDT

From the big screen to the news, Mars seems to be everywhere — and now acclaimed Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin is joining the crowd. In a new essay published on The Guardian, Martin opens up about his love for the planet and his childhood obsession with it — and how that eventually ended up influencing his writing. Martin also pays tribute to the books that helped him find his own passion, and the many space adventures that shaped his imagination as a science-fiction geek growing up in New Jersey.

“My first visits to Mars were in the company of Tom Corbett, Astro and Roger Manning, the crew of the Polaris in the classic series of juvenile (today we would call them YA) space operas derived from Robert A. Heinlein’s Space Cadet by way of the television series Tom Corbett, Space Cadet,” Martin reveals. “Later, a little older, I encountered The Martian Chronicles, and a very different take on Old Mars from the pen of Ray Bradbury, elegiac rather than adventurous, but just as magical, just as memorable.”

Martin admits that he once thought he would write a Mars story, but when continued space travel showed that there was no real “magical” planet in our solar system — just one that was dark and full of craters — the story fell by the wayside. “Mariner’s findings thrilled scientists around the world and gave us a detailed and accurate picture of the nature of the inner planets, but for the readers and writers of science fiction, the excitement was mingled with disillusionment and dismay,” wrote Martin. “This was not the Mars we wanted. This was not the Venus of our dreams…>I never wrote that Mars story.”

For Martin’s whole essay, head to The Guardian.

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