"One could imagine a very ascetic sort of life ... where the body is ignored. This is something I've played with in my books, where people hate to be reminded sometimes that they have bodies, they find it very slow and tedious."
This is a clever (and beautifully illustrated!) concept of staking your claim on an asteroid, moon or planetary surface. In this case, the surface of Deimos, one of the moons of Mars.
Here is an illustration of the stake-markers used to claim a designated area:
(From Placement of claim stake-markers from The Radium World by Frank K. Kelly )
Half-stumbling, half-walking, half-crawling on our knees over sharp-pointed slides of jagged rock, panting with an almost unbearable thirst, sweating beneath the load of our armor, we labored at the task for three unforgettable hours, carefully keeping our faces averted from the siren brightness of the Pool. But at last the job was done. We were very confident that our claims were now impregnable, incontestable...
See also the earliest reference to asteroid mining from Edison's Conquest of Mars (1898) by Garrett P. Serviss.
Compare to asteroid mining (blasting) from Asteroid of Gold (1932) by Clifford Simak, the meteor miner from Salvage in Space (1933) by Jack Williamson, asteroid claim law from Jurisdiction (1941) by Nat Schachner, space placers from The Day We Celebrate (1941) by Nelson S. Bond, the asteroid mining robot from Catch That Rabbit (1944) by Isaac Asimov, the asteroid mine from Love Among the Robots (1946) by Emmett McDowell, the coal mole from The Web Between the Worlds (1979) by Charles Sheffield, and asteroid metal from The Mechanical Monarch (1958) by E.C. Tubb.
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