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.)
I love this book, it is my favorite of his works. I especially have always loved the chapter August 2002: Night Meeting. It's strange to think that the dates he set for this futuristic book are dates that now have already passed us by.
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!
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.
This is a story about how thoroughly awful humans are. As the author states, "We Earth Men have a talent for ruining big, beautiful things," and, throughout, that's what they do. It's certainly not a very rosy portrait of the future - time will tell whether Bradbury's characterization is an accurate one. Spoiler alert, though: it ain't lookin' good. I think I would replace the "war" account, which occurs at the end of the novel, with "environmental catastrophe and global collapse," and the premise of this book falls well within the ballpark.
This collection of essentially a tapestry of short stories fits together like a jigsaw puzzle, and relates the account of the human settlement of Mars, from the first, failed beginnings, to tentative colonization, and subsequent collapse and abandonment to return to Earth for "The War," which initially seemed an eventuality that everyone was trying to escape from. According to B., the Martians have learned to engage in an enviable state of work-life balance, which has eschewed over-civilization in favor of living contentedly in the present, embracing what he describes as the "animalistic."
That term is not a pejorative, but rather, it describes a harmonious balance of science, religion nd artistic expression. For Martians, who have outstripped their human counterparts in the process of evolution (some even electing to leave physical bodies behind and to become globing orbs of blue-light energy, existing in perfect harmony and symbiance with their environment, without love, hate, jealousy, greed, envy or strife), life itself is enough. Their majestic cities are described as serene and beautiful: at least, until human invaders show up.
As one might expect, humans over the few decades they inhabit the red planet (whose descriptions are admittedly an alt-universe of science fiction), thoroughly foul the nest, killing off the native inhabitants and then themselves in a race to the bottom. Even when it seems that they have escaped what appears to be total annihilation on Earth, at the first wind that that will occur (in the form of a visible explosion which wipes out the continent of Australia), humans almost compulsively flock back to their doomed homeland in droves, leaving only a few lost souls to inhabit the vacant, crumbling cities made of wood and dust.
The essence of fate and futility is strong in this novel, specifically that anything humans attempt is doomed to failure in the long run, because of our tragic true nature, which is fixated on destruction, and seemingly, self-immolation. A curious species, indeed. Overall, it's a deep exploration of the nature of man; time alone will tell whether we can transcend this state to move to the next step of development, as the Martians seem to have done.
When I was a kid my folks took me to visit Mexico City. I'll always remember the way my father acted-loud and big. And my mother didn't like the people because they were dark and didn't wash enough. And my sister wouldn't talk to most of them. I was the only one really liked it. And I can see my mother and father coming to Mars and acting the same way here.
Anything that's strange is no good to the average American. If it doesn't have Chicago plumbing, it's nonsense.
Their cities are good. They knew how to blend art into their living. It's always been a thing apart for Americans. Art was something you kept in the crazy son's room upstairs. Art was something you took in Sunday doses, mixed with religion, perhaps.
They knew yow to live with nature and get along with nature. They didn't try too hard to be all men and no animal. That's the mistake we made when Darwin showed up. We embraced him and Huxley and Freud, all smiles. And then we discovered Darwin and our religions didn't mix.... We tried to budge Darwin and Huxley and Freud. They wouldn't move very well. So, like idiots, we tried knocking down religion. We succeeded pretty well. We lost our faith and went around wondering what life was for. If art was no more than a frustrated outflinging of desire, if religion was no more than self-delusion, what good was life? Faith had always given us answers to all things. But it went down the drain with Freud and Darwin. We were and still are a lost people.
Why live? Life was its own answer. Life was the propagation of more life and the living of as good a life as possible. The Martians realized that they asked the question 'Why live at all?' at the height of some period of war and despair, when there was no answer. But once the civilization had calmed, quieted and wars ceased, the question became senseless in a new way. Life was now good and needed no arguments.
They quit trying too hard to destroy everything, to humble everything. They blended religion and art and science because, at base, science s no more than an investigation of a miracle we can never explain, and art is an interpretation of that miracle. They never let science crush the aesthetic and the beautiful. It's all simply a matter of degree. An Earth Man thinks: 'In that picture, color does not exist, really. A scientist can prove that the color is only the way the cells are placed in a certain material to reflect light. Therefore, color is not really an actual part of things I happen to see.' A Martian, far cleverer, would say, 'This is a fine picture. It came from the hand and the mind of a man inspired. Its idea and its color are from life. This thing is good.'