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The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
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The Martian Chronicles (original 1950; edition 2008)

by Ray Bradbury

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9,621167299 (4.05)354
Member:isabelx
Title:The Martian Chronicles
Authors:Ray Bradbury
Info:Harper Voyager (2008), Edition: (Reissue), Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:sf, short stories, Mars, cover - blue, re-read month - 2013/01

Work details

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury (1950)

  1. 241
    Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (jpers36, moietmoi)
  2. 130
    Something Wicked this Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (sturlington)
  3. 60
    Kaleidoscope by Ray Bradbury (rionka)
    rionka: a lot of pictures from the same world. or from the world we have in our heads.
  4. 71
    Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson (bertilak)
    bertilak: Bradbury has said that Winesburg, Ohio was one of the inspirations for The Martian Chronicles (grotesque characters in Ohio versus on Mars).
  5. 20
    I, Robot by Isaac Asimov (mike_frank)
    mike_frank: Similar story telling, short stories tying together a grander story arch.
  6. 21
    Desolation Road by Ian McDonald (Sethgsamuel)
  7. 01
    Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (andomck)
    andomck: Both books are about colonization. One is from the perspective of colonizer, the other the colonized.
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I've never read Bradbury prior to picking up this book for a class. Very intriguing stuff, and I'll definitely read more of his work if I get the chance. It makes for some great comparisons/discussions on imperialism, colonization and all that good stuff, while also immersing you in a completely new world. One of my favorite chapters was "There Will Come Soft Rains," in which an abandoned house on Earth continues its daily routine of making food, cleaning the house, alerting its (former) occupants of the time and events, etc. Only towards the end do we see the silhouettes of the occupants as the only remaining paint on the side of the house; everything else has been seared away. An interesting look at what Earth could become, and the role that Mars or any other planet may play. ( )
  bookwormam | Jul 8, 2014 |
Reading this book left me with a bitter taste of sadness, for some reason. The successive (and relatively short) chapters didn't prepare me for the way the narrative was going to end - it is a great skill indeed to go from one chapter to chapter, expecting and hoping for things to end up well, and then finish with an anticlimactic ending. Martians are *humans* in character and way of life - they don't welcome alien (human) colonial endeavours because it disturbs ordinary life. From chapter to chapter, successive attempts at bringing in humans succeed, at great cost - the disappearance of alien civilization. But humans do not change their ways, either on Earth or Mars, which will ultimately be the reason behind their downfall. This book is easy to read, very short but still conveys great feelings and thoughts about humanity. The utopian dream of a human colony ends up a failure, which is sad. I recommend this book even to those who don't like science-fiction, as it doesn't feel like science-fiction. ( )
  soniaandree | Jun 16, 2014 |
Originally posted at FanLit.
http://www.fantasyliterature.com/reviews/the-martian-chronicles/

The Martian Chronicles is a collection of Ray Bradbury??s stories about the human colonization of Mars which were previously published in the pulp magazines of the late 1940s. The stories are arranged in chronological order with the dates of the events at the beginning of each story. In the first edition of The Martian Chronicles, published in 1950, the events took place in a future 1999-2027, but a reprinted 1997 edition pushes all events forward to 2030-2057. Because itƒ??s a story collection, The Martian Chronicles has an episodic feel which has been made more fluid by connecting the stories with short vignettes, similar to the structure of Bradburyƒ??s collection The Illustrated Man.

In the first story, ƒ??Rocket Summer,ƒ? we visit a small town in Ohio while the first human exploratory spaceship takes off for Mars. Bradbury explains in the introduction to The Martian Chronicles that this small-town mid-America feel was influenced by Sherwood Andersonƒ??s novel Winesburg, Ohio: A Group of Tales of Ohio Small-Town Life which Bradbury admired and hoped to emulate.

The next two stories, ƒ??Yllaƒ? and ƒ??The Summer Night,ƒ? show us what the Martians are like. Theyƒ??re humanoid in form with brown skin and round yellow eyes. Like humans, they live in houses and towns, eat and drink, sleep, age, read books, study science, desire love, become jealous and irritable, and commit murder. (I find it amusing that the Martians have the same kinds of depressing marriages we see in Bradburyƒ??s stories set on Earth.) But the Martians are telepathic and the humansƒ?? approach is causing them to quote our poetry, sing our songs, and adopt other aspects of human culture without understanding why.

The first spaceship was unsuccessful, so a second expedition was launched a few months later (it seems reasonable for Bradbury to expect that by 1999 weƒ??d be able to get to Mars a lot faster than we actually can). In ƒ??The Earth Menƒ? we learn the fate of this crew and we learn that Martians, just like Americans in 1950, have to live with bad psychiatry and insane asylums. Stephen Hoye, the narrator of Blackstone Audioƒ??s 2009 version of The Martian Chronicles, was particularly brilliant with this story.

Next comes ƒ??The Taxpayerƒ? in which an Ohio man is trying to get on the third expedition to Mars (the second one failed). This very short vignette tells us that things are going badly on Earth and that an atomic war is expected in about two years. ƒ??The Third Expeditionƒ? (originally published in Planet Stories as ƒ??Mars is Heaven!ƒ?) describes what happens when the third doomed mission lands on Mars. This story doesnƒ??t quite work with the chronology of The Martial Chronicles because it portrays astronauts from 2030 growing up in the small Midwestern towns of early 20th century America. It also ironically highlights the biggest problem with The Martian Chronicles when one of the astronauts asks ƒ??Do you think that the civilizations of two planets can progress at the same rate and evolve in the same way?ƒ? Clearly the astronaut doesnƒ??t think thatƒ??s possible, but in these early stories, Bradburyƒ??s Martian culture is just too much like ours. Even so, ƒ??The Third Expeditionƒ? is a clever little horror story and one of my favorites in the collection.

ƒ??And the Moon Be Still as Brightƒ? is the story of the fourth, finally successful, expedition to Mars. The Martians have mostly died of chickenpox ƒ?? humans, in our blundering way, have inadvertently killed them off. Most of the men of the expedition donƒ??t care, eager to begin exploration and colonization, but Captain Wilder and an archaeologist named Spender regret that humans have destroyed such a beautiful civilization, like they destroy everything else they touch. Thereƒ??s a lot of social commentary about 1940s American culture in this story.

The next several stories are about the rapid spread of humanity on Mars. ƒ??The Settlersƒ? and ƒ??The Shoreƒ? describe the type of people who came to Mars from Earth, ƒ??The Green Morningƒ? follows a Johnny Appleseed type of character who plants trees to increase oxygen levels, and ƒ??The Locustsƒ? and ƒ??Interimƒ? describes how men and women made Mars look just like another Earth. In ƒ??Night Meeting,ƒ? we learn that ƒ??even time is crazy up hereƒ? when a colonist from Earth meets a Martian who seems to be in a different time-stream. This story also reminds us that civilizations both rise and fall and that perhaps itƒ??s best that we donƒ??t know the future of our own civilization.

I especially liked the next story, ƒ??The Fire Balloons,ƒ? in which a group of missionaries prepare to bring the Gospel to the Martians. They donƒ??t know what the Martians will look like and must consider how a different culture, and even a different anatomy, might dictate the types of sin a society is prone to. (It seems unlikely that the missionaries donƒ??t know what the Martians look like by now, but we must keep in mind that The Martian Chronicles is a story collection, not a novel with a continuous story.) When the missionaries meet the Martians, they have even more theological questions to deal with. ƒ??The Fire Balloons,ƒ? has a beautiful ending.

Male explorers and settlers have been the main characters so far but ƒ??The Musicians,ƒ? a story original to The Martian Chronicles, shows us what boys do for fun on Mars, ƒ??The Wildernessƒ? features two women who are getting ready to emigrate from Earth, and ƒ??The Old Onesƒ? focuses briefly on the elderly. Those first courageous men wonƒ??t be forgotten, though; in ƒ??The Naming of Namesƒ? we learn that theyƒ??ve been immortalized ƒ?? many places on Mars have been named after them. These human names, and other industrial-sounding names, have replaced the nature-focused names used by the Martians.

In ƒ??Usher IIƒ? Bradbury returns to one of his favorite pet peeves ƒ?? book burning. A man who has left Earth to get away from the ƒ??moral climateƒ? police is angry that theyƒ??ve now shown up on Mars. To get back at them for outlawing Edgar Allen Poeƒ??s work, he uses his fortune to build his own House of Usher and he invites them all to a party. This story is entertaining, but Iƒ??m not sure that Bradbury makes his case. After what happens, I think the moral climate police will feel they have even more grounds for banning Poe.

ƒ??The Martianƒ? is a terrific horror story which shows us what becomes of one telepathic Martian when humans, full of painful memories and wanting to start over, arrive on his planet. This is one of the best stories in The Martian Chronicles.

The next few stories, ƒ??The Luggage Store,ƒ? ƒ??The Off Season,ƒ? and ƒ??The Watchers,ƒ? tell of the nuclear war on Earth that was predicted in earlier stories. It can be heard on the radio and seen from Mars and soon the colonists get an urgent message: ƒ??Come home.ƒ? And so they go back to Earth.

ƒ??The Silent Townsƒ? tells the story of Walter and Genevieve, living hundreds of miles apart, who assume theyƒ??re the last humans left on Mars. This story is entertaining, but highlights the rampant sexism so often found in the science fiction written for pulp magazines. Where does Walter decide is the most likely place to find a woman? The beauty shop. (Genevieve, what the heck are you doing in a beauty shop on a deserted planet?) Then, after driving for hundreds of miles to find her, Walter rejects and runs away from the last woman on Mars because sheƒ??s overweight. Really.

Bradbury is back to doing what he does best with the next two stories. ƒ??The Long Yearsƒ? tells of Hathaway, one of the crew of the Fourth Expedition, who stayed on Mars with his family when the rest of the colonists left. When Captain Wilder, his former commander, returns to Mars after exploring other planets in the solar system, he finds Hathaway and wonders how his wife and kids stayed young while Hathaway kept aging normally.

ƒ??There Will Come Soft Rainsƒ? returns us to Earth where the atomic war has wiped out most of the people. An automated house (common in Bradburyƒ??s stories) still stands in California, going about its daily routines as if the family who lived there is still alive. This story was inspired by Sara Teasdaleƒ??s post-apocalyptic poem ƒ??There Will Come Soft Rainsƒ? in which we see nature taking back the Earth after humanity is destroyed. This imagery in this excellent story is chilling and unforgettable. Unforgettable.

After all of the destruction that humans brought upon themselves (we nearly obliterated the population of two planets), the last story, ƒ??The Million-Year Picnic,ƒ? offers a bit of hope as two families escape the devastated Earth and plan to start over. To ensure that humans donƒ??t make the same mistakes we made before, they burn books, maps, files and anything else that contains the sorts of ideas that may have led to our destruction. (A little ironic, I think. Apparently, Bradbury thought it was noble to burn some of our literature.)

Whenever I read Bradbury, Iƒ??m struck by his lofty visions, in the early 20th century, for future technological developments and space exploration. He envisioned a degree of achievement by the 21st century that weƒ??re not even close to yet. However, at the same time, it seems that he didnƒ??t foresee how much American social culture would change even during his lifetime. Thus, in most of his stories set in the future we find the juxtaposition of robots and rockets with the same sexism and racism experienced in 1950. Fortunately, the nuclear world war that he and many SF writers imagined has also not happened. Perhaps we can give Bradbury some of the credit for warning us so vividly.

The Martian Chronicles is some of Ray Bradburyƒ??s most-loved work and foundational reading for science fiction fans. If youƒ??ve never read it, or havenƒ??t read it recently, I encourage you to try Blackstone Audioƒ??s version.

Leaving behind a world on the brink of destruction, man came to the red planet and found the Martians waiting, dreamlike. Seeking the promise of a new beginning, man brought with him his oldest fears and his deepest desires. Man conquered Mars and in that instant, Mars conquered him. The strange new world with its ancient, dying race and vast, red-gold deserts cast a spell on him, settled into his dreams, and changed him forever. In connected, chronological stories, a true grandmaster enthralls, delights, and challenges us with his vision, starkly and stunningly exposing our strength, our weakness, our folly, and our poignant humanity on a strange and breathtaking world where humanity does not belong. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
Great collection of short stories/chapters regarding humans travel to Mars. Very interesting read. ( )
  wallerdc | Mar 26, 2014 |
These short stories, written in the late 1940’s and collected along with interstitial vignettes to adjoin them chronologically, struck me with two very bold and unique challenges to the modern SF reader: First, the language soars a lot more poetically- sometimes at the expense of clarity, and second, the utterly fantastic and unrealistic conditions on Mars, the pivotal setting. When examined for theme and other timeless qualities, it does however offer some very original ideas for its day.

Without straining to recreate the alien environment of another planet and era for his readers, Bradbury instead simply superimposes the contemporary one onto the blank canvass of his off world setting. Within a few months of the initial Earthmen’s arrival by atomic rocket, communities of white picket-fence Americans have sprouted up throughout. Atmospheric and surface conditions are quickly reconciled to make Mars a geological and meteorological twin of Earth which can distinguished from the home world by it’s rural-ness alone. Encounters with aboriginal Martians reveal a species practically identical to ours but for some cosmetic coloration and the addition of some mystical telepathic ability which further serves to gloss the cultural and linguistic differences one might have expected.

Looking past those narrative challenges, however, one finds some fantastic themes. In particular, I found in the story “The Fire Balloons” the idea of Christian Missionary work among alien populations intriguing. The cold war theme of mutually assured world destruction, found in several of the stories, compares interestingly to contemporary short stories in Arthur C. Clarke's “The Lion of Comarre and Other Stories” collection, although ultimately, not as strongly as in Clarke. ( )
1 vote SciFi-Kindle | Mar 11, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (59 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ray Bradburyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bacon, C.W.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Borges, Jorge LuisForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brick, ScottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gardner, MartinIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goodfellow, PeterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hoye, StephenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hoyle, FredIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, MarieCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Knight, DamonIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marinker, PeterNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miller, EdwardIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miller, IanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Monzó, QuimTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mugnaini, Joseph A.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pennington, BruceCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scalzi, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Snow, GeorgeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Viskupic, GaryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Watson;, RobertCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Whelan, MichaelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
"It is good to renew one's wonder," said the philosopher. "Space travel has again made children of us all."
Dedication
For My Wife Marguerite
with all my love
First words
One minute it was Ohio winter, with doors closed, windows locked, the panes blind with frost, icicles fringing every roof, children skiing on slopes, housewives lumbering like great black bears in their furs along the icy streets.
Quotations
"No matter how we touch Mars, we'll never touch it. And then we'll get mad at it, and you know what we'll do? We'll rip it up, rip the skin off, and change it to fit ourselves."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
US title: The Martian Chronicles

UK title: The Silver Locusts

(according to Worldcat.org)
PLEASE DO NOT COMBINE with Martian Chronicles or Lions of Fashion!!
the Danish language edition of The Lions of Fashion has been combined with The Martian Chronicles .

Thank you!
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553278223, Mass Market Paperback)

From "Rocket Summer" to "The Million-Year Picnic," Ray Bradbury's stories of the colonization of Mars form an eerie mesh of past and future. Written in the 1940s, the chronicles drip with nostalgic atmosphere--shady porches with tinkling pitchers of lemonade, grandfather clocks, chintz-covered sofas. But longing for this comfortable past proves dangerous in every way to Bradbury's characters--the golden-eyed Martians as well as the humans. Starting in the far-flung future of 1999, expedition after expedition leaves Earth to investigate Mars. The Martians guard their mysteries well, but they are decimated by the diseases that arrive with the rockets. Colonists appear, most with ideas no more lofty than starting a hot-dog stand, and with no respect for the culture they've displaced.

Bradbury's quiet exploration of a future that looks so much like the past is sprinkled with lighter material. In "The Silent Towns," the last man on Mars hears the phone ring and ends up on a comical blind date. But in most of these stories, Bradbury holds up a mirror to humanity that reflects a shameful treatment of "the other," yielding, time after time, a harvest of loneliness and isolation. Yet the collection ends with hope for renewal, as a colonist family turns away from the demise of the Earth towards a new future on Mars. Bradbury is a master fantasist and The Martian Chronicles are an unforgettable work of art. --Blaise Selby

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:42:56 -0400)

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The tranquility of Mars is disrupted by the earthmen who have come to conquer space, colonize the planet, and escape a doomed earth.

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