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The Martian Chronicles Hardcover – Deckle Edge, February 1, 1997

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Editorial Reviews Review

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“A modern classic” —The Washington Post

“A giant…One of the country’s most popular and prolific authors.” —Los Angeles Times

“One of the greats of twentieth century American fantasy.” —Newsday

“There is no simpler, yet deeper, stylist than Bradbury. Out of the plainest of words he creates images and moods that readers seem to carry with them forever.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“A wonderful storyteller….Nearly everything he has written is sheer poetry.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; Subsequent edition (February 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380973839
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380973835
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (650 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,118 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

In a career spanning more than seventy years, Ray Bradbury, who died on June 5, 2012, at the age of 91, inspired generations of readers to dream, think, and create. A prolific author of hundreds of short stories and close to fifty books, as well as numerous poems, essays, operas, plays, teleplays, and screenplays, Bradbury was one of the most celebrated writers of our time. His groundbreaking works include Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, Dandelion Wine, and Something Wicked This Way Comes. He wrote the screen play for John Huston's classic film adaptation of Moby Dick, and was nominated for an Academy Award. He adapted sixty-five of his stories for television's The Ray Bradbury Theater, and won an Emmy for his teleplay of The Halloween Tree. He was the recipient of the 2000 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the 2004 National Medal of Arts, and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation, among many honors.

Throughout his life, Bradbury liked to recount the story of meeting a carnival magician, Mr. Electrico, in 1932. At the end of his performance Electrico reached out to the twelve-year-old Bradbury, touched the boy with his sword, and commanded, "Live forever!" Bradbury later said, "I decided that was the greatest idea I had ever heard. I started writing every day. I never stopped."

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

196 of 201 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 28, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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.
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99 of 107 people found the following review helpful By Hal Sawyer on December 16, 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book has been extensively altered from the original and classic Martian Chronicles. All of the dates Bradbury used in the chapter headings have been changed, rendering the Cold War/Atomic Age context of the book meaningless. One of the most important chapters "Way in the Middle of the Air", which establishes the violence and hatred endemic in the American culture which invades Mars has been completely removed from the book. An additional, inferior chapter, "The Fire Balloons" which was never part of the original book, has been put in its place. Don't buy this re-hash, find an older version and buy that.
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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Bill R. Moore on May 28, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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 ›
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230 of 263 people found the following review helpful By bob on September 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
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)!
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Robert Russin on August 24, 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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.
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