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Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

The Martian ChroniclesThe Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jacket blurb:  Leaving behind a world on the brink of destruction, man came to the Red planet and found the Martians waiting, dreamlike. Seeking the promise of a new beginning, man brought with him his oldest fears and his deepest desires. Man conquered Mars—and in that instant, Mars conquered him. The strange new world with its ancient, dying race and vast, red-gold deserts cast a spell on him, settled into his dreams, and changed him forever. Here are the captivating chronicles of man and Mars—the modern classic by the peerless Ray Bradbury.

Another SciFi classic I had not read and with Ray Bradbury's passing this past year, decided I needed to fix this oversight.  Even better, I was able to talk my bookgroup into reading it as well. 

A fascinating book.  A series of short stories that are set up to take the reader through time.  We start with the Martians themselves and the first Men to land on Mars - not Mars as "We" know it, but a very fictional Mars.  Then the growth of Martian towns and cities ala Old West style, where the menfolk come first to tame the land, and the missionaries follow, and then the women in search of husbands.  But War on Earth calls everyone home and we see the abandonment of Mars and the downfall of Earth.  And lastly, Mars as a refuge, a place safe from the ravages of war and a chance for a few to start over.

The attitudes of the 1940's and 1950's are strongly present, giving this book more of a historical view of scifi  than anything more current.  The colors, design, the Martians, life on Mars, are all seen through the lens of speculative fiction before anyone really knew much about the planet. Social attitudes of the day are well ingrained.

Bradbury's writing style is interesting.  I enjoyed the weaving of some characters into future stories.  I found the theme of Fahrenheit 451 a surprise here in this book on Mars.  I think Bradbury (not having read much about the man or his work) must have been quite fearful about the loss of the freely written word.

If you enjoy a historical look at speculative science fiction, then I recommend this selection.  Read Fahrenheit 451 as well.

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