Flashback – The Martian Chronicles

The first official day of fall is not until September 23rd so I find myself in a dilemma. Most of my “book reviews” have gone up under a Summer Reading heading. Now I’m curious if I should immediately switch to a General Reading sort of heading as soon as the 23rd hits or still categorize everything I’ve finished before Sept. 23rd as Summer Reading. Ah, the bothersome details of the life of a blogger. These are things you probably don’t even notice about the posts’ categories. Oh well. If you have any sort of feedback, feel free to share. For now I’m going to discuss another book I read a few years ago.

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Let’s take a gander at that beautiful artwork, shall we?

If you click here it takes you to a pretty cool post showing the evolution of the cover art from its original publication date of 1950 until 2009. The 1984 version is pretty much my favourite. There’s also a graphic novel version of this collection.

Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles: The Authorized Adaptation
   Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles: The Authorized Adaptation          by Dennis Calero

I only just discovered this version. I may look into it a bit further since I do love this collection so much. Earlier this summer I made a foray into the world of Graphic Novels (which made Pam pretty excited) and I have a bit more patience for them than I did before. I’m a fan of the sedate in my entertainment.

Anyway, now that I’ve given you about five billion pictures to look at let’s talk about the collection. Hmm, where to start? Okay, I’ll be honest I most assuredly did not want to read this book when it was first suggested to me. I even went so far as to read just the first short story and half of the second and claim I didn’t like it. Accordingly I gave it back to the friend who let me borrow it and attempted to distract her from her Bradbury conversion of my imagination. (Turns out my kryptonite was Dandelion Wine). Once I read DW I decided to give The Martian Chronicles another go. I’m so glad I did.

Here are the things I love the most about The Martian Chronicles in no particular order

1. It is unapologetically frank about human nature, specifically our tendency to destroy almost everything we come in contact with. Granted, I believe that the created universe is naturally in a state of decline with or without humanity’s intentional help. However, this book takes some of the lessons learned by great explorers of Earth’s history (Columbus, Vespucci, Marco Polo, etc) and provides quite literally an alien landscape that makes the “history lesson” palatable.

2. Sort of continuing on that theme Bradbury does not assume that the future propels humanity into either Brave New World extremism or conversely, the horror of 1984. He treats the future as though it will be pretty much typical of 1950s America. The man is 91 years old and I don’t know what fortune-telling witch he met as a child, but he is for the most part correct. (More so than say, Zemeckis. Regardless, I still expect a hoverboard in four years). In The Martian Chronicles he acts as though racial tension and Communism will still be the major threats of the everyday American’s reality.

3. Perhaps my favourite stand-alone short story of Bradbury’s belongs to this collection. It’s called “Night Meeting”. I wrote about it a little over a year ago here. I think it is my favourite because it deals with the fickle nature of time. Time is one of those things that completely fogs up my brain. I just don’t understand it in a broad sense. I understand how the day to day stuff works. But anything outside of my limited perception? No way, dude. It’s just too big a thing for me to really understand. Too many grey lines. Too many things humans just can’t quite figure out. I love what Bradbury did with this short story. It reminds us that even the vivid civilization right in front of us is a fleeting one in History’s scope.

I could go on and on forever about this collection. Chances are, if you know me in real life, or work with me, at some point I have gone off on some tangential Bradbury monologue and The Martian Chronicles featured heavily. For some more basic information you can read about the book here. I most definitely endorse this collection. Read it. You won’t regret it. I plan on using it to trick any possible future sons I have into loving to read.

On a related note one of Bradbury’s space themed short stories “The Long Rain” (which is actually in The Illustrated Man) is about an attempt to colonize Venus after the colonization of Mars. It’s pretty bleak. But again, fascinating. And reminded me a bit of the torrential rains we deal with here in Florida sometimes.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by too much Bradbury, never fear. Tomorrow will be all about puppies. Maybe.

Cheers!

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