Where Do Martians Go When They're in Seattle?



HOST: Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.

I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week:

Music from Les Paul …

A question from a listener about where Americans spend their holiday …

And a report about the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame.

Science Fiction Hall of Fame and Museum

Martian invasion: Detail from "War of the Worlds Endpaper #1," a 2000 painting by Thomas Kidd. The work is part of an exhibit on the continued popularity of "The War of the Worlds," written by H.G. Wells and first published in 1898.

GWEN OUTEN: Could space creatures be real? Will visitors from another planet come to Earth? A visit to the Science Fiction Museum offers a chance to explore theories about the future. The museum also explains the influence science fiction has had on our modern beliefs about the world. The museum shows that while science fiction was unpopular eighty years ago, it is now at the center of our culture.

The museum's exhibits include rare science fiction books and interesting objects from films.

The collection is organized into different areas such as weapons, space creatures, and the future. Visitors can see objects from famous science fiction films and television shows. These include guns from the popular television show "Star Trek." Clothes worn by actors in the nineteen eighty-two film, "Blade Runner" share an exhibit with clothes worn by real astronauts. The exhibit called "The Changing Face of Mars" examines the past, present and future of the "Martians" and their Red Planet.

In a separate area, the Science Fiction Hall of Fame honors the lives and work of science fiction's greatest creators. Four new members were added this year. They include American filmmakers Steven Spielberg and Ray Harryhausen. Mister Spielberg is well known for his films including "E.T.:The Extra-Terrestrial," "A.I.: Artificial Intelligence" and "Jurassic Park." Mister Harryhausen created memorable films including "The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad," and "Clash of the Titans."

Among other Hall of Fame members is Mary Shelley, who wrote the book "Frankenstein" in the year eighteen eighteen.

In past years, only writers had been honored in the Hall of Fame. This year, the awards were expanded to include other professions. There are now forty members in the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. Each member is honored with his or her image on a wall, personal objects and professional works.

Americans on the Move

HOST: In their free time, Americans love to travel. A middle school student in China asks where Americans like to go when they travel.

Although the cost of travel is rising, Americans will be traveling in record numbers this summer. Studies show that Americans' holiday travel will increase two percent this summer, compared to last summer. The Travel Industry Association of America completed the recent study.

Three out of four Americans plan to visit friends and family this summer. Seventy percent will go to a beach or lake. And sixty-four percent will visit small towns or farming areas. Others will visit big cities, national or state parks or historic areas. Still others will go camping or fishing or visit museums or amusement parks.

Public opinion studies found that travelers would most like to visit the states of Florida, California, Nevada and New York this summer.

One study said these are the top ten places Americans would like to visit: The Grand Canyon, The Statue of Liberty, Yellowstone National Park and the White House and monuments in Washington, D.C. Other places on the list are Niagara Falls, the Hawaiian Islands, Mount Rushmore, the Redwood Forest, the Glaciers and the Fjords of Alaska and the Rocky Mountains.

All of the top ten places show the natural beauty or history of the United States.

When Americans travel, they often like to see something new, or get away from their usual surroundings. This year, three hundred twenty-eight million Americans are expected to travel more than eighty kilometers from their home.

Of those who will travel on holiday this year, about two-thirds said they will leave their state. About twenty percent will leave the country.

Travel spending by people in the United States also continues to rise. American travel spending is expected to reach more than five hundred fifty thousand million dollars.

However, high prices will be a consideration for travelers. Many will look for places to stay that do not cost as much, while others will take shorter trips.

Les Paul

HOST: What would rock and roll music sound like if you could not hear the guitar? For Les Paul, the inventor of the solid-body electric guitar, this was an important concern. Faith Lapidus tells us about him.

FAITH LAPIDUS: Les Paul was a young musician in the late nineteen twenties. He decided that the acoustic guitar was not loud enough for playing outside or in front of large groups of people. After years of experimenting, Les Paul created a guitar that could be powered by electricity and produce a much louder sound. This invention helped change the history of popular music.

The National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio recently added Les Paul to its list of important American inventors. Les Paul did not only create the solid-body electric guitar. He also invented new methods of recording music. He was one of the first musicians to combine several different recordings into one song.

In some of his music, he had as many as six recordings of himself playing different musical instruments. Here is an example of such a song. It is called "Brazil".


Les Paul and his wife Mary Ford made many records together. Les Paul wrote the songs and played the guitar while Mary Ford sang. Here is one of their hits from nineteen fifty-one called "How High the Moon".


Les Paul is now ninety years old and still playing his guitar! We leave you with another number one hit by Les Paul and Mary Ford called "Vaya Con Dios".


HOST: I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program.

Our show was written by Brianna Blake and Dana Demange. Caty Weaver was our producer.

Send your questions about American life to mosaic@voanews.com. Please include your full name and mailing address. Or write to American Mosaic, VOA Special English, Washington, D.C., two-zero-two-three-seven, U.S.A. Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.