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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.
"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.)
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.
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!
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!