The Man From Mars

By Ray Schultz

Scientists believe that life may exist on some of the ice-covered moons of Jupiter and Saturn, and many say that it may have once been present on Mars.

Here’s a hint that could help prove their case. In the 1950s, Time magazine wrote that a Martian visited Earth.

Wait—let me qualify that. It wasn’t the magazine that said it, but a direct mail piece sent to prospective subscribers. Either way, this may have important consequences for the human race, so I here reproduce the letter:

This is His Excellency, the Ambassador from Mars.

You’ve probably never heard of his unexpected visit to America, for it was a very hushed-up affair. (But just don’t be surprised anymore when you see, or hear of, flying saucers. Don’t even be surprised if you should bump into a Martian on the street.)

His Excellency arrived in Washington one evening recently, in a shiny flying saucer that put down on the Mall near the Lincoln Memorial. His mission was to find out as much as possible about the Earth people: whether they were friendly or unfriendly, barbaric or reasonable civilized, and so forth. And since the atmospheric pressure here wasn’t really suitable for a Martian, he had to get all this important information in just a few hours.

But he didn’t have much luck, right from the start!

He rushed over to the Pentagon to learn about carrier jets and atomic subs, tanks and super bombers and grand strategies (and also to invite a few of the officers for a ride in his saucer), but the sentry thought he was a newspaperman playing a joke, and wouldn’t pay any attention to him – or even let him talk to a general on the phone.

He ran to the State Department to ask about treaties and tariffs and the United Nations, but a brusque young charge-d’affairs told him to come back after Easter … and the guards wouldn’t even let him near the White House.

So he walked into the National Art Gallery looking for the paintings and statues and frescoes and tapestries that have delighted art lovers for centuries, but the doorman said he wasn’t properly dressed and wouldn’t let him in.

And so it went, everywhere he turned. On the Hill everyone was too busy to be bothered . . . the British Ambassador was out of town … the Russian representative simply said, “Nyet” … and even one of the city’s most famous scientists was reluctant to have him pay a visit without a clearance.

Soon, his Excellence became discouraged. He wasn’t angry at the situation; he just realized that he had come down a century too soon. For cabinet members, protocol experts, admirals and even science-fiction writers were simply too startled for words.

Reluctantly, the Ambassador trudged his way back to his waiting flying saucer – his mission unaccomplished. Suddenly, something happened that made all the difference in the … ah … universe! He picked up a battered, thumbed-through copy of a weekly news-magazine called TIME that was lying in the grass just in front of his saucer. And, glancing quickly through its pages, he became so excited that he shouted “Eureka” – and roared off into the sky. And all the way up to Mars he had one of the most thrilling rides he’d ever taken, reading about …

… the ups and downs of the President’s program on its way through Congress … about great industrial plant that built cars and planes and things called refrigerators and washing machines …

… about the problems in Europe, and the restlessness in the Middle East, trouble from a vast nation called Russia, and battles going on in a small country called Indo-China, a boom going on in a large country called Canada …

… and about books and plays and wide-eyed movies and color television, and about all the strange and wonderful, generous and greedy, good and bad people who were doing and saying the things that other people wanted to know about.

He learned so much about the people and governments and problems and opportunities on the Earth that by the time his saucer had reached Mars, he was able to turn in a full and revealing report on the things that were going on in our world.

* * *

Now, just because I am enclosing with this little story a return card which entitles you to receive TIME at a special introductory rate it does not mean that I think you don’t know much about the news – or that reading TIME will assure you of becoming an Ambassador Extraordinary the way his Excellency eventually did.

But it does mean – that you’ll find TIME as valuable and interesting as do the more than 1,000,000 American families who wouldn’t miss their copy of TIME for the … ah … world.

And that after a few issues you will understand what actor Charles Laughton meant when he said:

“When I open TIME and read about anything whatever, I know that you have certainly been into the subject and found out all about it inside out, upside down, back, front and sideways.”

So because TIME can be especially helpful to you in the news-filled days ahead, won’t you give TIME a trial and accept this special invitation to try TiME for:

27 weeks for only $1.97

–eight cents for a world of information and enlightenment every week.

No need to send money now – we’ll gladly bill you later. But this is the only time I can offer you this reduced Introductory Rate, so please sign the enclosed card and mail it back to me at our expense today.


Bernard M. Auer

Circulation Director

It’s not clear who wrote this direct mail piece, or what the exact date was. I suspect it was 1954 or 1955, since that $1.97 offer then dominated in prospecting pieces.

But the Time team tried to update it later, and penciled in changes on the copy I Xeroxed. Atomic subs were changed to nuclear, tanks to missiles and super bombers to rockets. At the end of that paragraph, in which the Ambassador is spurned by everyone, someone wrote, “And NASA wouldn’t give him any lunar trips.”

Further down, the British Ambassador who was out of town was changed to the Chinese Ambassador who wouldn’t speak to a non-Marxist, famous scientists became newscasters and a clearance became a press pass. Admirals were changed to Congressmen. Wide-eyed movies became professional football. And the 1,000,000 American families was increased to 4,450,000 families.

I’m not sure if these copy changes hit the mails, or if the Martian Ambassador ever returned to Earth.