Reviews of Martian Chronicles, the (1950)
Review by enderwiggin (2009-09-11)
When writing a book that takes place 50 years in the future, there is a large element of danger and a small margin of error. If it is read when the setting takes place and it is too far away from reality, it becomes history (literally and figuratively). If one were to read a book that takes place in modern-day but has too many differences from modern culture, it's a joke. Some authors can make it work. But there are not too many people who could make it near perfect.
Enter Ray Bradbury.
The Martian Chronicles, the second book by one of science fiction's most renowned authors, is one of those that work. True, there are a few instances where a 1950s writer can mess up in foretelling the 2000s. A modern-day rocket cannot fit as many people as it did in the book (at least to my knowledge). And there is one chapter which, if it were to take place today, might cause a small uproar. But there are not too many of these instances, and it's not like Back to the Future Part II, where there are already flying cars and 3-D posters in 2015.
The book takes place from 1999 to 2026, mostly on the planet Mars. People seeking new lives, astronauts, and murderers alike come to Mars looking for adventure. The Martians don't take it all that well, but, as one character near the beginning of the book says, since when has humanity cared about anyone but itself?
The book provides suspense, terror, philosophy, and adventure alike for anyone who reads it. Even though it is 50 years old and takes place today, there are only minor inconsistencies. Bradbury successfully tells a tale using several short stories, each from a different person's perspective, to create a whole novel. Anyone interested in science fiction should add this to their collection because, as Ray Bradbury can prove, time rages not when you're talking books.
Review by turky (2007-03-15)
This book was amazing considering the time it was written for an author to have that good of an imagination it rivals some of modern day science fiction. Ray Bradbury adds so many twists and turns throughout his writing and this book it was all but impossible to put down in study hall. This book was really quite realistic to and the time period is just about where we are in the world today 2007 with all of the technology we have today this book would have been quite easy to write but in 1950 to write about things that didn't even exist or were thought of yet was really remarkable for Ray Bradbury to do. Every and all science fiction readers should be required to read this book because it is so good.
I gave it a 9/10
Review by ropie (2006-06-26)
'The Martian Chronicles' is real writing, real story telling. This is the honest stuff of science fiction for me. I loved absolutely every line of it; the mesmeric style, the mystery, the gentle brutality, the dry dialogue, the wrangling of the emotions, the rare and razor-sharp humour, the remarkable cover (by Michael Whelan - if you can find the Grand Master Series version, get it), the way very short stories sat between the longer ones, the titles. I honestly can't think of enough superlatives.
Coming to this quite soon after reading Kim Robinson's 'Red Mars', I have to wonder what Robinson was thinking bringing us such a comparitively sterile view of the Martian landscape. Of course they are two different books from different eras each trying to acheive their own goals, but Bradbury's portrayl of Mars is ultimately more humane and more 'useful', to be practical. Robinson's manual on how human life may pan out on Mars is one man's view, Bradbury's is anyones'. Though it is often said that Bradbury was writing about settlers in America and not Mars, I don't think it is really important. There is an utter 'alienness' to the whole affair that could just as easily apply to any newly discovered landscape and culture.
Probably my favourite chapters were Night Meeting and The Off Season though there was little between any of them and the whole book worked convincingly as a novel for me. If I had to pick one fault it would be that the tale Usher didn't really seem to fit too well with the others. But it's a minor fault - it was still a good chapter.
The only book I can think that this compares with, both stylistically and on many levels of the plot, is Gene Wolfe's 'Fifth Head of Cerberus'. Though I enjoyed that book an awful lot it didn't resonate with me in quite the same way as 'The Martian Chronicles' did. Still, together with 'A Canticle For Leibowitz' by Walter M Miller these are probably my three favourite American SF novels of all time.
Despite being a fast and easy read 'The Martian Chronicles' is a book to think about for a long time after and makes most of the recent SF tales I have read, even the very good ones, pale in comparison.
Review by harryhermionerw (2006-05-04)
This is basically a collection of short stories about, if you don't look between the lines, Martians, the near-death of all Martians, and the colonization of Mars. If you look between the lines, it's more focused on humanity, and how we don't like anything that's different, or new, so we try to convert or get rid of it.
Overall, it's kinda confusing, but if you get past that, it's an okay book.
Review by marsobig (2003-07-20)
Pretty much a collection of short stories, all about Mars and humanity. Some really great writing here. Poetic, surreal, scary. Bradbury uses third person perspective better than anyone else I've ever read. What I think Bradbury wanted to do most here was challenge the native and alien in all of us.
Review by Avarith (2003-07-05)
As has been said, it's actually a collection of short stories, which have little to do with Mars as such, and much to do with Humanity.
I found this book very interesting. But. It is far from my favorite from Bradbury. His style wasn't as...flowing as it normally is. Maybe it's just me, but it seems that he writes a better book than short story. He also sort of simplified the entirety of mankind, which I'm a little tired of. (Generalizations are always false. Irony or paradox?)
Good read, overall.
Review by kevin42 (2003-03-14)
This book is actually a collection of short stories that follow the first contact with the Martians, the misunderstandings with them, the near anhillation of them, the quick colonization of Mars by Humans, the abandonment of the colonies on Mars, and finally the ultimate fate of humanity. These stories are more than just fiction, they comment on the good and (mostly) bad aspects of humanity, and act as a warning to us in the present. As Bradbury himself said: "People ask me to predict the future, when all I want to do is prevent it".
Having said all that, it's still really good, impressive and satisfying sci-fi.