Lee sipped a mug of warm P&G black tea, the pyramid of tea leaves floating just below the surface covered with bubbles, reflecting the Martian sky.
Lee remembered standing in the kitchen back on Earth as, outside the kitchen window, a hummingbird darted back and forth over the backyard frog pond as if to say, “Hey, I could use something to drink from the abandoned hummingbird feeder.”
Lee’s memory of himself was of a different self, a personage who’d stood on stage at large conventions selling the idea of populating Mars, self-assuredly convincing conventioneers that conventional space travel would get us to Mars.
He skipped over the details about the “who.”
Only the hardcore followers, the science groupies, the loyal SpaceCon attendees, would know who was planning to do the populating.
Not humans the way we think of them, as individuals.
Instead, a whole ecosystem would travel to Mars.
Starting with microbes specifically geared for Martian living conditions.
Guin was in charge of making sure the propulsion systems were strong enough to carry the subsystems necessary to establish the first colony on Mars.
Of course, a whole new science dedicated to recognising what it means to be self-aware had to mature for Lee to sip his tea on Mars.
Once we opened up lines of communication between living things, disregarding old barriers that stood in the way when we once assigned special consciousness labels anthropocentrically, exploring the solar system both as we knew it and as we grew more aware of it was made a lot easier.
Lee blew across the surface of the hot liquid, unaware “he” was a biomech algorithm simulating what it was like to be a human being from Earth.
He thought and acted like a human being.
His actions and those of his Martian travel companion, Guin, made the Martian colony succeed.
Neither one of them was fully aware they were no longer humans but a collection of subsystems which coordinated their activities across communication barriers once considered sacred and impossible to breach.
“Lee” and “Guin” reported their progress back to Earth, back to Earthlings, some who knew the Martians weren’t really humans but most who interacted with the pair as if everyone involved was human, although many no longer were.
It was a long, sometimes painful, transformation process that began with slowly moving the human population into giving up old gender role identifications.