By: Ray Bradbury
It’s 1999 and the human race has created rockets capable of making the long journey to Mars. There they hope to colonize settlements and start a new life away from the pollution and wars of Earth. No rules, no politics, a fresh start. However, when they arrive, they will be met by the mysterious and advanced Martian race who are capable of telepathy and illusions. These natives will do what they can to rid the planet of invaders before it’s too late.
Told as a story from many perspectives over 27 years, The Martian Chronicles is without a doubt a modern classic. I’ve read Fahrenheit 451 as that book is considered a “must read before you die.” However, I have never heard anyone talk about The Martian Chronicles. I stumbled on the book by pure accident while browsing Barnes and Noble, and I’m incredibly glad I did!
While it can feel a bit disjointed and jumpy in the beginning, the story soon finds a rhythm once you know that you aren’t going to be following the same characters for the whole book. Don’t try to remember the names of all the people! Bradbury will remind you of who you need to remember. Besides, it’s less about who a person is and more about what they do that matters.
I appreciated that each chronicle was unique but blended into a greater narrative with purpose and ease. The chapters are cleverly titled and often misleading by relating to a metaphor found in that chronicle.
Like a compilation of short stories, you will be run through a range of emotions as you follow characters who wish to conquer, those who wish to be congratulated, those who wish to kill, and those who wish to explore. The Martian Chronicles is trippy and hilarious while also sad and thoughtful. Ultimately, this is a story of the human desire for conquest and blatant disregard for other cultures and life. This novel slowly shifts from being whimsical and harmless to showing humanity’s destructive behaviors both to the self and others. Here Bradbury explored follies that, if we heed the warning, the human race will not replicate.
This is a fantastically shaped alternative history that speaks to our current trajectory of colonizing Mars, even if there aren’t any aliens waiting for us there.
Overall rating: 5