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Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Martian Chronicles

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
Reason for Reading: Sci Fi Experience
Rating: 3/5

The Martian Chronicles is pretty much a cornerstone of science fiction. In short stories that sometimes overlap, sometimes diverge, the history of human colonization on Mars is explored. From the first expeditions and their unsuccessful first encounters with the telepathic Martians, to their eventual dominance of the planet, to the nuclear holocaust on Earth that recalls most of them back. Private stories of survival, grander tales of adventure, this book encompasses the human experience on Mars.

I first read this back in middle school, and I picked up it up eagerly, only to find that some of the stories didn't really live up to what I remembered. I remembered loving Usher II, but rereading it, it seemed slapped into the collection, being hardly related to Mars at all, rather about a man and his Edgar Allen Poe-style revenge on the morality police who've destroyed all of his books. Book burning and the morality police come up nowhere else in the collection, odd since the rest of the stories hang together much more solidly.

The best stories in the collection are the first few, Ylla, The Earth Men, and The Third Expedition, all dealing with the disastrous first contacts between Earthling and Martian. I finished The Third Expedition with a chill running down my spine. When the Third Expedition of Earthling explorers arrives on Mars and encounters what looks to be a city snatched from 1950's America, populated with the dead grandparents, uncles, aunts and sweethearts, everything looks too good to be true.

Should I read it? It is a giant among science fiction collections. You may not enjoy every single story, but there's plenty of different subjects/styles, so you'll probably find at least one you like.


Alyce said...

I've read some classic sci-fi, but not these stories. I think I've avoided them because I'm not into stories about Martians. I might have to give it a try someday though.

Nymeth said...

I really want to get my hands on this. I love Bradbury's writing, and plus, like you said, it's a cornerstone.

Oh said...

I did love this book. Haven't read it in ages. But Bradbury's book about writing (what the heck is the title?) is darn good. He wrote a story a week. A story a week! Is it ZEN AND THE ART OF WRITING? yeah, I think so, something like that. You might really like it.

Amy said...

i didn't like it to begin with, but i liked it once i was done with it. Don't quite know what that means...:)