Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Fiction Review: The Martian Chronicles

I discovered Ray Bradbury when I was in high school and quickly devoured every one of his books in our public library! That was...uh...let's just say a long time ago, and while I remember the joy his books brought me, I don't remember many details from his novels and short stories. I reread Fahrenheit 451 a few years ago for Banned Book Week and wanted to revisit more of my old favorites. I picked up a copy of The Martian Chronicles, Bradbury's 1950 collection of interrelated stories about humans traveling to and settling on Mars, at the bookstore last fall and thoroughly enjoyed reading it and rediscovering Bradbury's clever and creative storytelling.

In his introduction, Bradbury describes The Martian Chronicles as a book-of-stories-pretending-to-be-a-novel, but I quickly got into the flow of his storytelling. Though some of the stories were published as stand-alones at one time or another, they are collected here in chronological order so that they tell the story of man exploring and trying to settle Mars, from January 2030 to October 2057. Little attention is paid to the technology - these are stories about people (and Martians). Each story has its own characters, and sometimes certain characters reappear in later stories, but this is mostly a sequence of individual tales that link together to tell a complete story of man's efforts to take over another world, with our typical disregard for those already living there. In fact, since it was written in the 1940's, some of the technology, characters, and their actions seem quite old-fashioned. It's a novel about human nature, though, which doesn't change much.

I was absorbed by the characters and their world immediately. Bradbury is very creative in his imaginings of this foreign world, describing places, topography, and cities - and even more so in his descriptions of the existing citizens of Mars. Some are somewhat human-like and some are entirely different kinds of beings. The invaders from Earth, though, are always, predictably very human. I had forgotten what a wonderful sense of humor Bradbury has! I often laughed out loud or appreciated a subtlety in the storyline. I was thrilled to rediscover what I loved so much about Bradbury's writing as a teenager - it is clever, thoughtful, and very entertaining.

268 pages, William Morrow (HarperPerennial)

Disclosure: I purchased this book myself. My review is my own opinion.

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  1. I really liked Fahrenheit 451, but it's the only Bradbury that I've read. I should remedy that.

    1. Yes, definitely! He has sooo many books of all different kinds. I just remember loving them all when I was a teen! I think i will revisit Dandelion Wine next.

  2. I haven't read much Bradbury but I just read something else which talked about his book Dandelion Wine. I am intrigued to read something else by this author.

    1. I'd like to revisit Dandelion Wine soon, too - again, I don;t remember anything about it except that I loved it!