Saturday, May 2, 2015

Book Review - The Martian Chronicles

So, Ray Bradbury… Yeah, I got nothing on him. All I know about him is that he was apparently an awesome author. He’d written his fair share of novels and short stories. I’m not sure if I’ve read many works by the man. I’ve probably seen most of his stories adapted to television or movies. I know I haven’t read Fahrenheit 451. That’s definitely on the reading list for this year.

I don’t remember when I first heard about The Martian Chronicles. I probably found out about it at a book fair, one of the stories was in our reading books, or  the television mini-series that was released in the 70’s. Either way, I found out about it eventually because I finished reading it some time ago. The Martian Chronicles was released in 1950. From what I’ve read, it’s made up of a series of short stories that have been cobbled together.  It’s had some revisions since then. Some stories were added or taken out. Some revisions also have it taking place in the mid-2000’s instead of the beginning of the 21st century.

The Martian Chronicles
Author: Ray Bradbury

BRIEF BLURB: The book talks about how Earth tries to colonize Mars.

At the end of the 20th century (or 2033 in some later editions), Earth decides to see if Mars is ripe for colonization. It takes four expeditions in order to find this out. The first three didn’t do so well since Mars is populated by Martians. The fourth expedition became a success when it was revealed that a majority of Martians have died. People start to flock toward the planet and set up homes, stores, and shelters.

A lot of the stories center on life on Mars. We see that a lot of people wanted to get away from all of the crap that Earth threw at them. We also see how they interact with what Martians are left. Unfortunately, the “fun” on Mars ends when Earth gets embroiled in a big war. Almost every colonist heads back to Earth to see about their loved ones. Ultimately, Earth is decimated and Mars is left desolate. There is a glimmer of hope as survivors come to Mars and make it a new permanent home.

While that synopsis was short, that should give you a sign that it should be read. This was a really good read. That’s really all I can say about it. Almost everything about it is pretty good. I liked the short story format. Each chapter has a complete story in it. You get all you need to know in them and feel satisfied at the end of them. The thing I first thought of when reading this was The Twilight Zone and how that show was formatted. I liked the dialogue. Instead of throwing bits of jargon in it to make it sound sciencey (?), Bradbury makes it all feel simple and read well.

I liked all of the stories. They made me think, wonder, get mad, laugh, and even get a little sad.  There aren’t really any main characters though you do have some recurring ones every so often. While most facts about Mars here are outdated, the main focus is on the subjects that are brought up. The stories touch on various subjects like colonization, racism, exploration, expansion, censorship, and the devastation of war on a populace. Some of the topics flew over my head but I did get the message later on. Some of my favorite stories were “And the Moon Shall Be as Bright”, “The Million-Year Picnic”, “The Martian”, and “Usher II”.

I liked how Mars itself is described. While it’s has some similarities to Earth, it is different in some ways. The Martians themselves are depicted in a variety of ways. Their depictions are probably the only thing in the book that is a bit disjointed. These short stories were cobbled together, after all. While we learn some of their customs, we don’t learn a lot. Since we really don’t learn much about them, you could say that there are various races of Martians or something.

Overall, I definitely recommend it. It was a good one to read. Since I know that this was adapted to a three-part television miniseries, I’ll be looking at that later this month and seeing if it captures what the book went for. Until then, Peace, God Bless, watch out for Martians. They’re a sneaky bunch.

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