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The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

The Martian Chronicles (original 1950; edition 2008)

by Ray Bradbury

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10,253185281 (4.04)426
Title:The Martian Chronicles
Authors:Ray Bradbury
Info:Harper Voyager (2008), Edition: (Reissue), Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:sf, short stories, Mars, cover - blue, re-read month - 2013/01

Work details

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury (1950)

  1. 251
    Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (jpers36, moietmoi)
  2. 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).
  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. 10
    The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury (sturlington)
  5. 10
    Girl in Landscape by Jonathan Lethem (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Visions of humans colonizing planets with declining civilizations
  6. 10
    I, Robot by Isaac Asimov (mike_frank)
    mike_frank: Similar story telling, short stories tying together a grander story arch.
  7. 21
    Desolation Road by Ian McDonald (Sethgsamuel)
  8. 00
    Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges (lewbs)
    lewbs: Borges admired The Martian Chronicles. The two books have much in common.
  9. 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.
  10. 01
    Perelandra by C. S. Lewis (kelliente)

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Showing 1-5 of 165 (next | show all)
This novel like few others fired my imagination as a pre-teen young boy. The historical personal impact on me and science fiction gives this book an extra half star rating. I am a little saddened that the book does not live up to my memory of it, but the strong parts of this are still very good.

This is a sequence of stories; it is indeed "chronicles" of the arrival of earthmen on Mars, the slow colonization, and the simultaneous disappearance of native Martians. My 1959 35 cent bantam paperback is the original version of this imaginative work. There are later versions and perhaps I should read one some time. My version begins with January 1959 when Rocket Summer came to winter in Ohio. That one page first chapter is some of the finest stuff Bradbury ever wrote and my personal favorite over all these years.

The truth of the matter however is that this book is incredibly dated. It is firmly rooted in 1940's-1950 America. It had no vision at all of any societal change. None. Not a glimmer. Even the vanishing Martian societies are mid 20th century America. One of my pet peeves with older science fiction is when the astronauts land a rocket, step outside and pull a pack of cigarettes out for a smoke. It happens here. It is so ridiculous.

There are several stories within this sequence however that I really like a lot despite minor faults. They have a powerful effect on me as a reader. The majority of this book was originally published as short stories that could be read alone. Bradbury pulled them together here and added some narrative. It works well. Bradbury also continued to write stories set within these chronicles and I've read a number of those. In my mind I think of them as part of the Martian Chronicles.

Here is what my book has:

1 • January 1999: Rocket Summer • (1947)
2 • February 1999: Ylla • (1950)
14 • August 1999: The Summer Night • (1949)
16 • August 1999: The Earth Men • (1948)
31 • March 2000: The Taxpayer • (1950)
32 • April 2000: Third Expedition • (1948)
48 • June 2001: —And the Moon Be Still as Bright •(1948)
72 • August 2001: The Settlers • (1950)
73 • December 2001: The Green Morning • (1950)
78 • February 2002: The Locusts • (1950)
78 • August 2002: Night Meeting • (1950)
87 • October 2002: The Shore • (1950)
87 • February 2003: Interim • (1950)
88 • April 2003: The Musicians • (1950)
89 • June 2003: Way in the Middle of the Air • (1950)
102 • 2004-2005: The Naming of Names • (1950)
103 • April 2005: Usher II • (1950)
118 • August 2005: The Old Ones • (1950)
119 • September 2005: The Martian • (1949)
131 • November 2005: The Luggage Store • (1950)
132 • November 2005: The Off Season • (1948)
144 • November 2005: The Watchers • (1945)
145 • December 2005: The Silent Towns • (1949)
155 • April 2026: The Long Years • (1948)
166 • August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains • (1950)
172 • October 2026: The Million-Year Picnic • (1946)

and here, to read aloud to yourself or others, slowly, softly, is rocket summer ...

January 1999 Rocket Summer

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.

And then a long wave of warmth crossed the small town. A flooding sea of hot air; it seemed as if someone had left a bakery door open. The heat pulsed among the cottages and bushes and children. The icicles dropped, shattering, to melt. The doors flew open. The windows flew up. The children worked off their wool clothes. The housewives shed their bear disguises. The snow dissolved and showed last summer's ancient green lawns.

Rocket summer. The words passed among the people in the open, airing houses. Rocket summer. The warm desert air changing the frost patterns on the windows, erasing the art work. The skis and sleds suddenly useless. The snow, falling from the cold sky upon the town, turned to a hot rain before it touched the ground.

Rocket summer. People leaned from their dripping porches and watched the reddening sky.

The rocket lay on the launching field, blowing out pink clouds of fire and oven heat. The rocket stood in the cold winter morning, making summer with every breath of its mighty exhausts. The rocket made climates, and summer lay for a brief moment upon the land.... ( )
  RBeffa | Nov 1, 2015 |
The TV miniseries based (loosely) on The Martian Chronicles was aired when I was 12. It made an odd impression on me, although I don't remember many details, and also had the effect of inoculating me against reading the book, thinking I'd already been exposed to its substance. I'm glad I finally got around to reading it 35 years later--roughly 65 years after its publication. I read the original edition, not the 1997 revision that "updated" it by replacing a story or two and pushing all of the dates 30 years later.

Although Bradbury cited Burroughs' Barsoom and Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio as literary influences, the title here aptly alludes to the "chronicle" or annal genre of historical recording as developed in the middle ages. Most of the book is taken up with short stories which represent some development in the human tenancy of Mars, and these are interspersed with shorter descriptive passages characterizing the time. All are headed with the month and year, and arranged in chronological sequence. Many of the stories, and most of the longer ones, were published independently in periodicals (mainstream and pulps) prior to their collection here, and the character overlap from one story to another is minimal, but they do all fit into a single continuity.

This book is neither sword-and-planet fantasy, nor futurist sf. The narrative voice reminded me of no one so much as R.A. Lafferty. It is set in the period from 1998 to 2026, and with the exception of fairly convenient interplanetary travel by "rocket" and some fanciful luxury automation, nothing much seems to have changed materially since 1950. On Bradbury's 21st-century Mars, people listen to phonographs (jukeboxes, even!) and build houses out of wood imported from Earth. Earth itself is on the brink of mutually-assured nuclear destruction. Ultimately, the book didn't read as if it were about Mars or the 21st century at all. It's a set of fables that use Mars to reflect on very terrestrial, very American, very mid-20th-century concerns.

The book has its unity of place (i.e. Mars) violated twice by stories set on Earth. The first of these is "Way in the Middle of the Air" (replaced in the 1997 revision), which presents a Southern town in a 2003 US without any of the consequences of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. The result is fairly surreal for a reader today, and certainly interesting as a reflection on understandings of race in the US in 1950. Although "Way in the Middle of the Air" witnesses an exodus to Mars of the town's entire black population, it is the only story in the book that seems to have any human characters who are not presumptively white.

The second non-Martian story is the penultimate one of the book: "There Will Come Soft Rains." This one had nothing whatsoever to do with Mars, and just seemed out of place, even though it was set in the future history defined in the book. I had actually read this story separately many years ago, but had forgotten--if I ever knew--that it was included here. On it's own feet, it's quite good: very evocative. It is a contemplation of human impermanence, using an automated household to rehearse the habits of vanished humans--habits that seemed very 1950 for 2026 (to say nothing of 2056).

Just as the Civil Rights Movement was absent from the continuity of these stories, so too were the Sexual Revolution and the feminist developments of the late 20th century. In the opening story, the domestic scene of native Martians (a race nearly extinct by the later time of human settlement) seemed almost to be satirizing American middle-class marriage circa 1950. In general, human women are objects with little agency in this book. There is an odd and elliptical reference after describing the hard men who were the first to work the Martian frontier: "Everyone knew who the first women would be" (87). But Bradbury doesn't say. Prostitutes, I suppose?

The story that I found most surprising and gratifying was "Usher II," at roughly the midpoint of the volume. It is sort of a Martian Chronicles counterpart to Bradbury's novel Farenheit 451, contemplating a draconian, biblioclastic censorship regime. In "Usher II," though, the censorship seems to be especially trained on fantasy, weird fiction, and horror; or at any rate, these are the constraints which the story's protagonist William Stendahl most resents. He takes advantage of the Martian isolation from censoring agencies to create a haunted house that will manifest all of his fondest tropes from Poe. The mood here is very different from that of Farenheit 451, and the motivation is not resistance but revenge.

The book as a whole is divided into three rough arcs: exploration, settlement, and retreat. There is an elegiac element even to the first section, due to the vanishment of the telepathic natives and the ways that they evoke lost desires from the explorers. The third section is somewhat perplexing, in the insistence that with the outbreak of cataclysmic war on Earth, everybody on Mars would want to go back there. If it were true of some, or even many, there would certainly also be many who would want to stay clear. Bradbury at least rationalizes against war refugees going to Mars because their rockets would be shot down by the Terrestrial states at war.

My 1963 pocket paperback copy of the book includes a foreword by literary critic Clifton Fadiman, who wants to emphasize Bradbury's role as a "moralist." It may be a fair tag for Bradbury, but I don't think there's even one of the various cautionary tales among The Martian Chronicles that supports Fadiman's notion that Bradbury is warning us off space travel altogether. Nor do I suppose, for all that this Mars now carries a thick perfume of nostalgia, that Bradbury shared Fadiman's pronounced neophobia. If there's a single "moral" that brackets the whole book, it's one also perpetuated in the later Martian sagas of Robinson and McDonald: Emigration to Mars won't allow us to escape our humanity, and being human won't immunize us from becoming Martian.
4 vote paradoxosalpha | Oct 16, 2015 |
Bradbury is a master of the short story. That is what this is. A loose collection of stories with some reoccurring characters. Some may be put off by some of the dated technology and customs, since the stories were written between 1948 and the early 50's,but the heart of the stories will still captivate your imagination. ( )
  wvlibrarydude | Sep 6, 2015 |

Not every rambling poet is profound.

Sometimes a ramble is just a ramble. ( )
  meekGee | Jul 6, 2015 |
A collection of loosely connected short stories about the colonisation of Mars, originally published in 1950 and it does show its age, with some of the references to belonging clearly based in the 1940's. The quality is uneven with some of the connecting stories, often only a page or two long, showing a creaky narrative attempt to connect the short stories to create greater links.
Having said that, as ever with Bradbury the language and images can be wonderful, so that although the quality is uneven, when done well, they are very powerfully descriptive, evocative and nostalgic for the ancient Martian civilisation whose final remnants are unwittingly destroyed with the arrival of man.
Other reviews pick out particular stand out stories and my favourites are:
"—And the Moon Be Still as Bright" and "The Settlers" - which are connected stories which to my mind properly start the story of man on Mars and the underlying story about the respectful approach colonisation.
"Night meeting" - a ghostly story about civilisations and their fleeting nature when viewed with the benefit of time making them history.
"Way in the Middle of the Air" - set on Earth and about white men's reaction when African Americans prepare to leave Earth for Mars, This is clearly about racial prejudice and of its time.
"Usher II" - which is about censorship and prefigures Fahrenheit 451, riffing off Poe short stories and other fantasy writers. This story is also in "The Illustrated Man".
"The Martian" - which I found one of the most powerful exploration of the idea of Martian, when read in the book, I do not think it would stand up outside the short story sequence.
"There Will Come Soft Rains" - with which I would have ended the collection, set on Earth and beautifully bleak.

"The Other Foot", which is in "The Illustrated Man" short story collection is also set in a similar imagined vision of Mars, and you realise that Bradbury continued to write stories set in this imagined future - I originally read "The Silver Locusts" short story collection published in the UK with slightly different contents from The Martian Chronicles, but the same overall narrative arc. ( )
  CarltonC | Jul 5, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (54 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
豊樹, 小笠原Translatorsecondary 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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"It is good to renew one's wonder," said the philosopher. "Space travel has again made children of us all."
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.
"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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US title: The Martian Chronicles

UK title: The Silver Locusts

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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 .

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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:10 -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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