Ray Bradbury (August 22, 1920 - June 5, 2012) published some 500 short stories, novels, plays and poems since his first story appeared in Weird Tales when he was twenty years old. Among his many famous works are 'Fahrenheit 451,' 'The Illustrated Man,' and 'The Martian Chronicles.'
This book clearly deserves more than five stars. It is one of the most moving and important set of observations about our human issues ever written in either science fiction or science fantasy form. Ray Bradbury wrote these short stories in the late 1940s at a time when we knew almost nothing about Mars. Some scientists even thought there were probably canals and the remnants of a dead or dying Martian civilization on Mars. Written as science fiction originally by Mr. Bradbury, our growing knowledge of Mars makes these assumptions science fantasy today. But don't let that shift rob these stories of their power over you. But Mars was just the setting for a more serious set of questions. Mr. Bradbury was concerned that the world was too full of hate, war, short-sightedness, and greed to amount to much. He despaired as to whether humans would survive the discovery of the atomic bomb. From this raw material of human excess, he stitched together a powerful vision of our choices -- to operate at our best . . . or our worst. He appeals to our better selves in a vivid way that will be unforgettable to you, if you are like me.The development of the book has an interesting history. Mr. Bradbury was in his late twenties, and had written quite a few short stories. While visiting New York, he showed his short stories to publishers who liked them. The publishers advised him that there was a market for novels, but not much of one for books of short stories. Then one night it hit him, he had the raw material for a novel about Mars if he simply wrote a few transition stories to fit with ones he had already written. He sat up late that night writing the book proposal, and sold it the next day. That concept became The Martian Chronicles. Mr.Read more ›
The Martian Chronicles is, in many ways, one of science fiction's most important novels. It's deemed an essential read on almost all notable lists, is the book that broke Bradbury into the mainstream, and was the single most widely read SF book during the 1950's. This book is not a novel per se, but rather a collection of separately linked stories that chronicle, in about as many ways as you can imagine, Man's experiences with Mars, hence the title. Though it covers a span of time from 1999-2026, it is, like all great SF, a commentary on the times in which it was written, rather than the times it is set in. This book is a startling example of human folly. In contrast to much science fiction (from The War of the Worlds onward) the Martians in Bradbury's universe are calm, peaceful, and dreamlike (for the most part, anyway) rather than vicious and malicious. This book shows how humans-arrogant, self-righteous, and irrespectful-can and probably will ruin a beautiful, peaceful planet through ignorance and lack of respect. Also in the book are situations depicting ways in which other races we meet in space may react to us. I found these situations to be highly original and imaginative, sometimes we fail to realize that there are other ways for them to react besides peaceful, cooperative tranquility and war. Sprinkled throughout the seriousness of the stories mentioned above, are lighter, somewhat comical tales that liven up the pace a bit. Through fictional situations, this book also manages to comment on such issues as racism, slavery, social life, marriage, etc. A highly interesting read. Though it is a short read (less than 200 pages) it feels like an epic.Read more ›
The William Morrow Hardcover Edition (February 1, 1997) appears to be missing a story: " Way in the Middle of the Air "
Mr. Bradbury wrote a story where all of the black people get fed up with the south, and the way they are treated, load up the rocket and leave all of the bigots behind. Incredibly some paper pushing editor must have thought this story would offend our sensitivities, and took it upon him or herself to remove it from the chronicles.
Strange that the work of Mr. Bradbury, a champion of free speech, is being edited.
Do not get this version! (I got hosed, but vowed to save my fellow readers from the same fate)!
There are some books that defy classification -- they slip from the clenched fists of genre's restrictive grasps, and seem almost above critique. Their sums are greater and longer lasting, more impactful than their parts. They represent some of the best of what the human mind can create, and remain strangely timeless despite the fact that science or culture may surpass their literal truths.
The Martian Chronicles is one such book. Famously referred to by author Ray Bradbury as "a book of stories pretending to be a novel", the disparate parts somehow come together to form something more than a novel. Like Tolkien's war of the ring, this story of the settlement of Mars and its aftermath transcends genre-fiction and somehow becomes more like fictional history -- or, in this case, a cautionary fable.
Throughout these stories, the reader encounters themes of xenophobia, imperialism, censorship, war, and racism (though the story dealing with this most directly, "Way in the Middle of the Air", where, back on Earth, all black people decide to emigrate to Mars, is stupidly cut from many of the later editions). Although Bradbury tends to stick to these broad strokes throughout, rather than focusing on individual characters, there are also stories that chronicle the more personal struggles of violence, fear, loneliness, and isolation. Yet somehow it never manages to get mired down in its own bleak moralizing. Bradbury knows when to apply a light touch, and it never feels as if he is lecturing or proselytizing.Read more ›