“The Martians were there. Timothy began to shiver. The Martians were there-in the canal-reflected in the water. Timothy and Michael and Robert and Mom and Dad. The Martians stared back up at them for a long, long silent time from the rippling water…”
Aliens! Space travel! The Future! What’s not to love?! The Martian Chronicles is not a difficult read but it is difficult to explain. On the surface, the stories are seemingly disconnected except in that they follow a timeline from the first human’s arrival on Mars to the eventual departure. Some of these vignettes are only a few paragraphs long, and many leave you wanting more.
What I especially enjoyed was that each story has its own underlying meaning. In my mind, The Martian Chronicles is truly about what we have done to our planet and our culture and where we are headed if we can’t learn to appreciate it. In “And the moon be still as bright-“, it is said: “‘We Earth Men have a talent for ruining big, beautiful things…this whole thing is ancient and different, and we have to set down somewhere and start fouling it up'”. I KNOW, tough love, humans. And that’s just one story! The book had 26 of them, and each carries a subtly different meaning. Each story is separate because Ray Bradbury originally wrote a series of Mars-themed vignettes all released at different times that ended up compiling into The Martian Chronicles. It is not your typical novel, but it is also not completely disconnected short stories, which makes it unique.
I first became aware of this book because a roommate of mine owned it and I randomly picked it up off the shelf and began reading. I never finished it, and eventually I bought my own copy because my Goodreads “Currently Reading” list kept reminding me I had yet to finish it. I then realized that my edition was not the same as her edition, and included different stories, so be careful which edition you pick up! I believe mine was the edition published in 1978, and it was missing two stories I really liked from my roommate’s newer edition (The Fire Balloons & The Wilderness) I believe hers was published in 1984.
The Martian Chronicles is truly beautifully written. I confess, this is my very first Bradbury experience, and I absolutely want to read more! My readability score is easy/thought-provoking because the language is by no means difficult, but the story definitely requires your full attention. I swear to you, I am not typically one of those search-for-the-symbols readers. I actually usually get frustrated if I’m not positive what the author is saying and I head to Google to try and find out if other people thought it meant the same thing that I did. So don’t worry, this book is not overly pretentious. Don’t be frightened off by my hailing it for its underlying meaning, that’s just me being excited that I actually understood it for once. So, if you are interested in reading a book that you have to put down every few pages to sort out your thoughts (in the best way), then I would definitely recommend The Martian Chronicles for you. You will not be disappointed. In fact, you will most definitely want to stand on an upturned milk crate at a crowded intersection and thrust copies of it at the people walking by. At least, I hope you will, because I did….
I’ll write again soon. Until then, keep reading.
Found in: Quest No. 1
What Bradbury novel should I read next??