Things were getting busy on the major flight corridors between the Earth and Mars, or so the casual observer of socialist bloc science fiction from the 1950s might come to believe. While there are no reports of intergalactic traffic jams, Mars was becoming a destination of choice in science fiction from both sides of the Iron Curtain. In her fascinating article, Dafna Zur details the exploits of an international exploratory mission to the red planet, consisting of children from a dozen nations, including North Korea, China, and the Soviet Union. It remains unknown whether the explorers from Kim Tong Sŏp's serialized novel Youth Space Expedition Team met any other socialist space travelers on their way to Mars. But they could have very well run into spaceship #1, commanded by Zhenzhen, the protagonist of Zheng Wenguang's (1929–2003) “Cong diqiu dao huoxing” (From the Earth to Mars) (Zheng 1954a).
Nicolai Volland (firstname.lastname@example.org) is Assistant Professor in the Department of Chinese Studies at the National University of Singapore.