Classic Book Review: The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

My mother grabbed The Martian Chronicles out of a Little Free Library a year ago and I was a fan of Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451, so I decided to pick up this little book for my Back to the Classics 2016 Challenge. I didn’t read the Goodreads blurb before reading, but it would have explained a lot. Nearly everything, in fact.

The strange and wonderful tale of man’s experiences on Mars, filled with intense images and astonishing visions. Now part of the Voyager Classics collection.

The Martian Chronicles tells the story of humanity’s repeated attempts to colonize the red planet. The first men were few. Most succumbed to a disease they called the Great Loneliness when they saw their home planet dwindle to the size of a fist. They felt they had never been born. Those few that survived found no welcome on Mars. The shape-changing Martians thought they were native lunatics and duly locked them up.

But more rockets arrived from Earth, and more, piercing the hallucinations projected by the Martians. People brought their old prejudices with them – and their desires and fantasies, tainted dreams. These were soon inhabited by the strange native beings, with their caged flowers and birds of flame.

The Martian Chronicles is a book of short stories about humans colonizing Mars. It takes quite a few stories to really understand that they are cohesive overall – there is a story here, just not 100% following characters, it’s following Mars.

The book was published in 1949, so I did some research about “space stuff”. As I was reading I couldn’t help thinking about how much more we know about space than Ray Bradbury knew when he was writing. Despite it being set in the future (which happens to be now, yes, now!) the marriages are very 1950’s-esque, even among the Martians. The first pictures of earth from space were in 1946 and 1947; the first picture of the surface of Mars was in 1976. Knowing this helped me get a bit more into Ray Bradbury’s mindset while he was writing this. As far as humanity was concerned, this could have been the truth when it was written.

The Martian Chronicles is a sad book with colonization themes. The portrayal of humans was so sad and yet so true. It does end hopeful. Overall, it was a weird read on par with reading 1984 in 1984. The only words I can use to describe the experience are, unfortunatly, weird and interesting.

Until next time!

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