SONG: Welcome to the Landing


“Welcome to the Landing” [Download]

ARTIST: grant.

SOURCE: Based on NASA, 5 Mar 2021, Welcome to ‘Octavia E. Butler Landing'”, as used in the Science Art post “Welcome to ‘Octavia E. Butler Landing’, NASA, 2021.”, as well as, to a smaller degree, Science, 22 Feb 2021, “
Martian rover sends back ‘overwhelming’ video, audio from the Red Planet
“, as used in the post “Mars rover sends “overwhelming” audio home. (And video and pics too.)“.

I really wanted to sample some that Mars audio for this, but it didn’t really fit. I even tried running my voice through NASA’s kind of fun “Your Voice on Mars” page … but it doesn’t come out sounding musical enough for this pretty little song.

The song started as a kind of challenge to myself. I used basically none of my usual audio tools, not even my microphone. It was done entirely on a new, inexpensive laptop a friend gave me, and was done with basically an out-of-the-box installation of Reaper in nagware mode. I downloaded a single VSTi, a synthetic hang drum – one of those fun tuned percussion things that are like steel pans that you play with your hands. The drums, which is what I started with, were just my fingers tapping on the keyboard with a lot of effects on them. Then I added the hang drum track, then the sine-wave synth Reaper comes with. Everything else is a vocal sung into the onboard mic inside my car in the driveway at 2 a.m. The house was sleeping.

It turned out pretty well, performance-wise, and the mic made sense from a story perspective, as a kind of message from Mars.

The idea for the song – well, this is only the second time I’ve ever done a song on a “Science Art” thing rather than a research project, but since it’s on the Perseverance landing site, it’s still current.

I’m still turning over in my mind the idea of someone in the near-ish future living on Mars and using placenames given for people who’d never been there. That seems like a very colonial thing (did Columbus ever visit Colombia? Or Columbus, Ohio?), which makes it fairly ironic that this particular landing is named for Octavia Butler, who was a pretty thoroughly post-colonial science fiction writer. She was also very concerned with growing things and the relation living beings have with the soil, so it seems like future settlers would appreciate her way of looking at things (although probably not the things she did with parasitic wasps in some of her stories). I’m sure she’d be tickled, too, to have a place named for her on Mars.

And of course, if a colony does get established and take root on Mars and grow, eventually places like Octavia E. Butler Landing are just going to become like Jamestown – historical sites. There will probably be tours. And some local guide will have to explain that no, this landing wasn’t named for a colonist, or even an astronaut. Just a lady with an imagination and a knack for a good plot. A spiritual mother for future generations of space people.


Welcome to the landing
Thank you for understanding
Despite our atmosphere
She never landed here

Except in science fiction
When Mars was just prediction
Our ice, imagination
Our soil, ripe for creation

She built a way to be
Before the rockets came.
We were colonized
Here’s her name.

Welcome to the growing green
The first farmer’d never seen.
And follow us across the field
Where we’re bringing in her yield

Mother never saw this sky
Never planted, never cried
From blisters in this dust
Yet she lives in us.

She lit a campfire here
Before the rocket flames.
We were colonized
Here’s her name.

Welcome to the landing
Welcome to the landing
Welcome to the landing