The Girls from Earth

a look at Frank M. Robinson's original short story
report & analysis by Dave Eversole

Disclaimer: We are in no way suggesting that the writers of any given teleplay plagiarized another’s work. We are simply pointing out similarities that often occur in the broad fields of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Today we will examine a story that bears some slight similarities to the episode "Mudd’s Women." The review is primarily based on the radio version which was adapted by George Lefferts and broadcast on the program X-Minus One on January 16, 1957.

 

The time is a few years after the turn of the millennium (bear in mind that the story was published in 1952). Mars is a mining colony of Earth, and employees some 20,000 miners, all male, all single. Earth has been unable to convince any women to emigrate, though there are a few female Saturnians ("the four-armed variety!")

Mike McDonald and Charlie Beagle are two con-artists who came to Mars looking to strike it rich, hopefully without having to do any actual work. They soon find themselves destitute, unable to even pay for a meal consisting of a two-dollar domestic steak and cheap muggle juice.

They con a sucker, a geologist named Henry Mortenson, into to paying for their lunch, and learn that most of the miners are filthy rich, all having signed up for nine-year-hitches. Activities are few, and most spend their money on nothing but gambling. The money is so good, in fact, that the miners would stay beyond their agreed upon tours of duty if they only had wives and families. Unfortunately, the type of man to sign up for such dirty backbreaking labor is not the cream of Earth’s society -- some even have questionable backgrounds that drove them off Earth.

Mike and Charlie, with dollar signs dancing in their heads, hit upon a scheme to lure women from Earth to marry the miners. They hock Charlie’s watch to pay to have a poster showing a beautiful woman printed up. As the "Beagle and McDonald Agency," they set up a tent outside the entrance to the mining camp. Sign up now for a beautiful bride from Earth, the poster promises. One hundred dollars per application, plus the transportation fee for the woman is all that it will cost.

The lonely miners apply in droves.

Mike and Charlie arrange to have the same scheme set up on Earth by placing an ad in The New York Times with a photograph of a "typical" miner -- a handsome Adonais. Women are advised to send their applications right away before all the men are taken.

In a couple weeks the first batch of women’s applications arrive via cargo rocket. And boy, are Mike and Charlie in trouble. The photos on the applications are not the beautiful women they had hoped for and promised the miners, they are all perfectly average women, plain Janes, and the ages and weights claimed are at odds with the photographs. One is a rather beefy, tough-looking women’s wrestling coach.

Charlie is worried, but Mike decides to tamper with the applications -- replaces the real pictures with shots of glamorous models and movie starlets, drops the weights by many pounds, cuts the ages by a decade or so.

The Miners are excited when they are paired up with prospective brides, but Henry Mortenson and two other miners discover the applications they received all have a picture of the same girl. They stalk off to find "those two crooks."

Mike and Charlie are hastily packing their bags, stashing their money in bags, and have tickets to get off Mars before their scheme is discovered. They are met at the door by Mortenson and his two angry friends.

Mike tries to bluff –- back on Earth all women are trying to look like a particular movie actress. The miners don’t buy it. Finally, Mike allows that it must have been a mix-up at the agency back on Earth. He promises to look into it the moment he and Charlie land.

No go! Mike and Charlie are locked up in the station office, and their money is confiscated. They’re told that if the women who arrive are what the miners were promised, they will get their money back and be set free. If not. . . .

Mike and Charlie wait glumly until the first of the rockets carrying the girls from Earth will arrive. Mike schemes –- perhaps mass hypnosis could convince the miners the women were beautiful, perhaps they could appeal to the miners to give the poor women love, perhaps they could hire make-up artists to make the women look like their supposed pictures. No good. They’re done for.

The day arrives. The nervous miners assemble at the rocketport, shaved, showered, wearing their best clothes, most carrying a gift of cologne water for their brides-to-be. Some miners express doubts about bringing beautiful women to their tarpaper shacks, hope they won’t be disappointed.

A shout and the men look heavenward. The "Operation: Big Date" convoy of rockets drops out of the sky, lands.

Locked up in the station office, Mike and Charlie wait nervously under the watch of six armed guards. They cannot see the rocketport, but hear the happy shouts of the men and the roar of the landing rockets. Then. . . all is quiet, no sound whatsoever. They surmise that the women must now be disembarking. It must be the silence of disappointment.

Soon Henry Mortenson comes to visit them. Mike and Charlie just know for sure they’re going to be hanged. Mike begs Mortenson not to hang him and Charlie.

Mortenson asks what he is talking about. He is not here to take them away to be punished, he’s here to escort them to the welcoming banquet as guests of honor.

Yes, Mortenson says, Mike and Charlie are a couple of cons, but in this case they have, perhaps inadvertently, done right by all concerned. The women accept the miners as they are, don’t turn up their noses at their rough and uncouth ways. These were women who, for the most part, had it tough on Earth, and, like the miners, wanted only love and understanding. They’re hard-working and willing to undergo all the hardships it takes to build a life on Mars.

Forget the standard that Hollywood sets, Henry Mortenson says, as far as I’m concerned, as far as all the miners are concerned. . . "They’re gorgeous!"

Six months later Mike and Charlie run a successful advertising agency on Earth. Mike has just returned from Mars. Henry Mortenson and the lady wrestling coach are going to have a kid. "Mike," if it’s a boy, "Michelle," if it’s a girl.


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