What a strange book! It reminded me a bit of 'The Twilight Zone.' I found this book confusing at first, until I realized that each story was a different perspective of life on Mars with the Martians. The stories having to do with the Martians were by far more interesting than the ones not having much to do with the Martians. Some of the stories dragged on a bit, but not so much so that I couldn't bear to finish the book. I would recommend this Ray Bradbury classic if you like science fiction.
This was the best sci-fi book I have ever read, and normally I hate sci-fi of any kind (although I love fantasy)! The book was so timeless and original, and really got my brain thinking about dimensions and time-travel. I am so surprised! Although I don't plan on going crazy with this author or genre, it definitely opened up my mind a little more, especially where the genre is concerned.
"The Martian Chronicles" (1950) is vintage Bradbury. It is a series of vignettes (published between 1946 and 1950) about the colonization of Mars from 1999 to 2026: both fantasy and satire. If we cannot tolerate one another on Earth how will we fare on Mars? How will the Martians react to outsiders? Descriptions are full of his typical poetic metaphors, which seem out of place with the sci-fi scenario and his often incoherent banter. Several parts borrow events from stories of other authors. For example, in "And the Moon be Still as Bright," the Martian race have all be decimated by germs brought by three expeditions from Earth (H. G. Wells "The War of the Worlds").
A highlight, to me, is his sketch Usher II," in which a settler (Mr. Stendahl) builds a replica of the Poes House of Usher. References to Earths government banning and burning books, and to an underground society that illegally hoards them, makes this sketch a precursor of his most renown work, "Fahrenheit 451." The house and its dreary landscape are the means by which Stendahl intends to destroy his enemies (the Moral Climate) who have dispatched a representative to dismantle and burn Usher II. In the course of the narrative Bradbury works in reference to the fairy tale "Rapunzel" as a means of accessing the house. Then he has Stendahl destroy his enemies following the plot of several of Poes major stories: "Murders in the Rue Morgue," "The Pit and the Pendulum," "The Premature Burial," "The Cask of Amontillado," and "The Masque of Red Death." Finally, Usher II is destroyed as the original was in "The Fall of the House of Usher."
The final story, "The Million-Year Picnic," brings us back to the beginning: à la "Finnigan's Wake." With some minor substitutions, this book was published in the UK under the title "The Silver Locusts": an obvious metaphor for the space ships that invade and ravage Mars.)
Although sometimes dated, these stories are still delightful. They work well as "Amazing Stories." Read it, and reflect on how much our world and solar system views have changed since it was first published in 1950. The book is a classic for good reason!
I'd read this book before, when I was a kid, and loved it (as had most of the people in the book group.) We decided we'd all like to re-read it. However, the edition I got in the mail was definitely missing at least two of the segments. (Ones I remember MOST CLEARLY and liked the most: "Night Call, Collect," and "Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed.") I suppose it is possible that I read them in other Bradbury collections, and just mushed them into The Martian Chronicles in my head, since they fit in perfectly... But I was very disappointed by that.
Other than that however, the book completely lived up to my memories of it - which is unusual. Bradbury's prose is simple and lucid, yet his images are both dreamlike and powerful. The book is in the format of a series of short stories, strung together by even shorter interludes, forming a history of Man's expeditions to and colonization of Mars (starting in 1999!) The writing dates from the 1940s and 1950s, and one can tell. The gender and race relations, and some other elements that Bradbury harshly criticizes through this work are very clearly from this era, and although the portrayal of submissive housewives (and men who explore, women who come later and decorate homes and cook) may rub some the wrong way (although Bradbury is somewhat critical of this, and his women are smarter than their men might give them credit for), what truly comes as a shock is when one realizes, reading the part of the book where a mass emigration of African-Americans occurs, that when Bradbury wrote it, black Americans were still mostly servants, and lynchings were common. This made me feel that maybe our society has progressed.... but then, reading the parts of the book where Bradbury shows space explorers using gorgeous Martian ruins for target practice, and when he says, "We Earth Men have a talent for ruining big, beautiful things" - I realize that maybe we haven't changed that much after all.
I had forgotten that one of my favorite stories from when I was a kid, "There Will Come Soft Rains," was in this collection. (It doesn't take place on Mars, and it's been published in many other anthologies.) Still an incredibly powerful piece, and a wonderful collection of Bradbury's writing.
As with other Bradbury novels I have written, this one has left me in a bit a quandry. Seems to me he is known as a good author, and I have enjoyed his short stories, but his novels leave me stuck between the liking and not liking. It's supposed to be good. I thought it was OK, and since it was short, not too bad a hit to one's reading time. Perhaps I need to read it again, but my "to-read" bookshelf is not waiting on that!